PROVO, Utah -- The game ended a little more than an hour ago and folks are still here inside the Marriott Center.
There's a man and a woman and their three kids standing in one corner. There's an old man sitting by himself across from me, four girls with their faces painted to my right. Two couples are on the court posing for pictures, hundreds of other people are sprinkled throughout the building, and three men are standing directly behind me chitchatting about pretty much nothing.
One of those men is named Greg Skaggs.
I just turned around and asked him what he's doing.
"Waiting to see if Jimmer comes back out," he answered, and this is what this college basketball season has become.
We started back in November talking about Duke and whether the Blue Devils can repeat, then spent some time on Kyrie Irving's toe. Kemba Walker has garnered headlines. Jared Sullinger has demanded our attention. But as I type late Wednesday with a box score from BYU's 71-58 victory against San Diego State to my left, there is no denying this has turned into The Year of The Jimmer.
"It's exciting," BYU forward James Anderson said. "Jimmer is a great player and he's getting a lot of exposure."
The buildup for this Mountain West Conference showdown was uniquely massive because it involved two top-10 teams, i.e., the previously unbeaten and fourth-ranked Aztecs against the ninth-ranked Cougars, led by the nation's leading scorer, Jimmer Fredette. The one-time unheralded recruit had put 47 on Utah two weeks ago and 42 on Colorado State last week. So even casual fans seemed intrigued by the matchup and willing to stay up for a game that didn't tip until after 10 p.m. on the East Coast.
|More on San Diego State-BYU|
Remember Greg Skaggs from earlier in this column?
He had such a friend who stayed up for the game.
"The first text he sent me said, 'Who names their kid Jimmer?' " Skaggs said. "The last text he sent me said, 'Jimmer is damn good.' "
You ever watched basketball with a smile?
That's what Fredette does to you -- unless, of course, he happens to be dropping ridiculous shots on your favorite team. In other words, unless your favorite team is San Diego State, you probably had a blast watching him play against San Diego State. He scored 15 points in a row during one stretch, sank deep jumpers and awkward layups. He had 20 at the half and finished with 43 after making 14 of 24 field-goal attempts and 10 of 11 free throws.
"As good a player as I have ever coached against," said San Diego State's Steve Fisher, who, it should be noted, first became a Division I head coach in 1989. "He is just sensational and extremely hard to guard."
Or as Kevin Durant put it -- via Twitter -- "Jimmer Fredette is the best scorer in the world!!"
|Now how about this for dedication? Chelsy Erickson risks giving birth at the arena to watch Jimmer Fredette perform his magic. (CBSSports.com Original)|
Considering Durant put 47 on Minnesota on Wednesday, I'll agree with Fredette and go with Durant. But the point remains the same. The reigning NBA scoring champion provided a remarkable performance in an overtime victory, then took to Tweeting about a 6-foot-2 guard from the MWC. Meantime, Chelsy Erickson was waiting around to get her picture taken with Fredette. She was obviously pregnant and wearing a shirt that read, "My baby is due today but I couldn't miss Jimmer beat SDSU!"
"I was in a really important meeting at work today and I saw her calling," said Chelsy's husband, Rand Erickson. "So I stepped out of the meeting because I thought she might be going into labor."
Turns out, Chelsy was fine.
She was just calling to say she wanted to go to the game.
A friend suggested she should try to get Fredette to sign her belly.
"I don't care how good he is, he's not touching my wife's belly," Rand said, and so now we know there's something Fredette can't do. He can't touch Chelsy Erickson's belly, at least not while Rand Erickson is watching. But anything else seems possible after a night like this night, which is why the nation will continue to watch The Jimmer Show, and why hundreds of BYU fans stood around a mostly empty building for more than an hour after Wednesday's game ended in hopes that college basketball's biggest attraction might emerge from the back.
For the record, Fredette never reappeared.
But Ryan and Mike Clark didn't seem to mind one bit.
The BYU fans and brothers just stood around and talked anyway.
"We're basking," Mike said. "We're just basking."