Jimmer Fredette was a gotta-see-this sensation at Brigham Young, piling up points while turning the national spotlight toward Provo. He was so exciting, so captivating that his name became a verb, an adjective, a non-proper noun.
Jimmer Fredette was a gotta-see-this sensation at Brigham Young, piling up points while turning the national spotlight toward Provo.
He was so exciting, so captivating that his name became a verb, an adjective, a non-proper noun.
This season, there is no Jimmer. He's busy pulling that quick-trigger jumper for the NBA's Sacramento Kings.
There really isn't a mid-major replacement for him, either, at least not one garnering the nearly Tim Tebow-esque attention Fredette commanded last season.
There are, however, a handful of players from mid-majors who are coming close to filling the Jimmer void this season. Here's a few:
Doug McDermott, Creighton. The guy once known as Harrison Barnes' high school teammate may get more attention in player-of-the-year consideration than the North Carolina All-American. Playing under his father, Greg, McDermott has been a score-in-bunches type of player for the 15th-ranked Bluejays. The sophomore doesn't see the comparison with Jimmer and has a point — to a point. Fredette was a guard who took what would seem like crazy shots off the dribble and from unthinkable distances, while McDermott is a 6-foot-7 forward who works his finesse game around the rim. Still, McDermott does score a lot — he's third nationally with 23.2 points per game — and has a mid-major team climbing through the rankings, just like the Jimmer.
Damian Lillard, Weber State. Game-wise, the Wildcats junior point guard is probably a little closer to Fredette than McDermott. At 6-foot-3, he's only an inch shorter than the Jimmer, he plays in Utah and has a gift for putting the ball in the basket, albeit with a bit more explosiveness. Lillard does have a little different background; he came from inner-city Oakland, Calif., while Fredette was in Hometown USA, Glen Falls, N.Y. He still puts up Jimmer-like numbers, dropping 41 points against San Jose State, 36 against powerful Saint Mary's. Lillard doesn't shoot a lot, but is one of the best in the nation at getting to the free-throw line, where he shoots nearly 91 percent, and is hitting 45 percent from beyond the arc while leading the nation at 25.1 points per game.
Reggie Hamilton, Oakland. Arizona coach Sean Miller called Hamilton one of the best guards anywhere after the senior guard scored 31 in a loss to the Wildcats at McKale Center in December. Miller knows a thing or two about good point guards — he was one at Pittsburgh — so that's pretty good praise. Hamilton isn't a particularly imposing figure at 5-foot-11, 176 pounds, but he's ultra-quick with a first step that's about like wet soap slipping through your fingers — gone before you know it. He's also fearless, driving to the basket no matter who's in there, and makes his free throws at a 90 percent clip, tied for 10th in the nation. He's solid from 3-point range, hitting 36 percent, and is second nationally with 23.7 points per game.
C.J. McCollum, Lehigh. Like Hamilton, the junior guard doesn't exactly strike fear in opponents at a lanky 6-foot-3. He is as smooth as anyone in college basketball, though, able to hit from long range, get to the rim and use his long arms to snare rebounds against bigger opponents. McCollum was the nation's leading freshman scorer in 2009-10 and became the first freshman to be selected as the Patriot League's player of the year. He was ninth nationally in scoring last season and is up to seventh as a junior at 21.1 points per game. McCollum has eclipsed 30 points four times this season, the most recent a 32-point outing at Colgate, where he dropped in seven 3-pointers. The way he's playing, he could join Colgate's Adonal Foyle as the only Patriot League players to get selected in the NBA draft.
Isaiah Canaan, Murray State. The player known as Lil Sip — he's small and from Mississippi — had never heard of Murray State before moving north to Kentucky. Three years later, the junior guard has the attention of the college hoops world turned toward the Racers, who are undefeated and up to No. 11 in the polls. Canaan isn't the prolific scorer Fredette was — his 18.7 points per game are more than 10 below Jimmer's nation-leading total last season — but he can put up big numbers, scoring 35 points against Austin Peay while ranking seventh nationally from 3-point range at 47.2 percent. More than that, he's gritty, a survivor of rising floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina in his hometown of Biloxi with a fearlessness that belies his slight, 6-foot frame.
Gerardo Suero, Albany, N.Y. This lanky junior guard scored 31 points against then-No. 1 Syracuse. That's all you need to know. OK, maybe not all, but pretty impressive. A native of the Dominican Republic, Suero is the nation's fourth-leading scorer, averaging 21.3 per game. The son of a track Olympian — Gerardo Sr. reached the quarterfinals in the 100 and 200 meters at the 1980 Moscow Games — Suero can shoot from range, take opponents off the dribble and is an exceptional rebounder for a 6-foot-4 guard, averaging 5.5 per game. He has some drive, too. After going 1-for-10 against Boston University, Suero spent the next day working on his jump shot, casting up close to 800 to make sure he got it right.
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