His name is Jimmer not Jim or Jimmy -- but according to the birth certificate, his real name is James. His mother settled on Jimmer because James was a little too conventional. Or perhaps mom sensed young Jimmer Fredette was going to blossom into someone special.
Fredette is a BYU legend now, the Glens Falls native who traveled clear across the country to play basketball, and made the Cougars a darkhorse pick to reach the Final Four in April.
The sweet-shooting senior guard was named to no fewer than eight preseason All-America teams, and it is impossible to imagine the Cougars getting anywhere without him.
He's a combo of something old and something new. A relentless playmaker who is always seeking uncanny ways to score either for himself or one of his teammates, Fredette reminds NBA scouts of Mark Price with a splash of Steve Nash.
"He's kind of unique," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "He can really share the ball like both of those two guys but can really score it, too."
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Fredette played football in high school and was recruited heavily by Penn State to play linebacker. Just before leaving for BYU, Fredette worked out with prison inmates to ripen his mental toughness. The University at Buffalo (7-3) will have to guard Fredette anthem to buzzer in its 7 p.m. matchup tonight (Radio 1230) against the No. 16 ranked Cougars (12-1) in Alumni Arena.
"This is what you dream as a kid," Fredette said on Wednesday at Alumni. "I think that's something that helps me out, having that confidence to know that I could do this. It doesn't matter if you don't have confidence in whatever you're doing, it's a lot tougher to accomplish things."
But Fredette, who averages 24.2 points and 4.2 assists, makes it look so easy. Like the time last season when he went off for 49 against Arizona. There must be something about Fredette and the Wildcats because he lit them up for 33 more this season. But he isn't an unconscious gunner.
"The night he scored 49 points against Arizona," Rose said, "he had nine assists in the game."
At one time, Fredette was a major football prospect, playing wide receiver and linebacker for Glens Falls High School but his heart was on the hardwood.
"I like football a lot, but I didn't have the passion for it as I did basketball," he said. Fredette was just as heavily recruited for hoops and was also offered scholarships to Siena, Massachusetts, William & Mary, Fordham and Marshall. BYU won out and the fact that Fredette is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints only helped.
"I grew up in an area where there's no LDS kids and now there's a ton of LDS kids and I have a lot of good influences for myself. Siena was my second choice."
Prior to leaving for college, Fredette and his older brother played pick-up basketball at Mount McGregor and Washington Correctional Facilities. When you play against inmates with correction officers hovering with rifles, facing Arizona isn't such a big deal.
"We knew the guy who ran recreation program for the prisons, and he decided it would be a good thing for us to play against some of the inmates who had good behavior," Fredette said. "We went in, walked through the yard and went to the gymnasium that they had. They had inmates come in and watch the games and bet."
Fredette put his name out for the NBA Draft last season and he worked out for Oklahoma City, Boston, New Jersey and the New York Knicks in a five-day span before deciding to return for his senior season. His stock has never been higher.
"They told me to continue to work on my point guard skills and continue to work on conditioning," he said. "That's one of the big issues because of that grind that you have to go through because it's nothing like the college grind. They think physically I can play and they saw that I was a little more athletic than they thought, which was good. They know the offensive game is there."
Yes, that's his specialty.