Last Night's Winner: Jimmer Fredette, Folk Hero

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BYU's Jimmer Fredette hung 47 on Utah last night, three of which came on the shot you see here. If you didn't love watching him already, now you will.

Fredette has become what Stephen Curry was a few years back, what Chris Jackson was a few more years back, what Pete Maravich and Rick Mount were many years back: a basketball folk hero. I'm plagiarizing myself here, but whenever a phenomenon like this arrives on the scene it's more than worth repeating. There are guys like LeBron and Jordan and Wilt who blow the game wide open. And there are guys like Fredette and Curry and Jackson who solve the game as it is, who don't invent new angles so much as master the ones already there, and with a touch of that old carnival-midway spirit. You worship the former. You fall in love with the latter.


Look at what Fredette did last night: 47 points on just 28 shots (6-for-9 from three and 9-for-9 from the line). He scored with that shrug of a jumper of his — he pulls the shot from his ear, like a coin trick — and he scored with those clever little flips around the basket. Maybe he's not yet NBA material, but anyone who calls him unathletic has an impossibly pinched definition of the word. He knows how to create space for himself, and he finishes at the rim extraordinarily well for a guard. If that isn't "athleticism," then I'm Billy Paultz.

I've always been a sucker for players like Fredette, guys who are doing massé and jumps and draw shots while everyone else is shooting straight pool. Cults rise up around them. People get weird. They come by the thousands to see Rick Mount play a high school game in 1965. They run away from home to visit Chris Jackson at LSU. "He makes me so happy," explained the 8-year-old girl. They draw cartoons about Jimmer Fredette. They make movies and write songs, and sometimes — like T.J. Fredette, Jimmer's brother — they do both at once. You've probably seen this. It's terrible. I've watched the the damn thing three times today.


Next year, in all likelihood, Jimmer will be just another player on someone's bench, a guy with a great coin trick and no chance to perform it. Enjoy him now. He'll make you happy.