Posted by MATT JONES
Tonight is a huge night for Jimmer Fredette. Yes, his BYU Cougars have a chance to make a national splash and beat one of the two remaining undefeated teams left in college basketball. And if you ask Fredette, I am sure he will say that winning is his focus and helping his team take an early lead in the Mountain West Conference is all that is on his mind. That is all fine and dandy. But more importantly for my purposes, tonight is about something much bigger than which team wins the first of two battles in the MWC. See to me, tonight is about one thing and one thing only…making Jimmer Fredette a national star.
Jimmer is on the cusp of reaching the tipping point for stardom at this very moment. After a string of absurd scoring games and a set of highlights that have dazzled (the three he hit from 32 feet in the flow of the offense on Saturday has already become YouTube gold), Jimmer has grabbed the attention of most college basketball fans. The mainstream media is now ready to shift gears from the NFL to college basketball and thus they have also gotten a sniff of the gift that is Jimmer Fredette. It is rare for any college player to find himself the featured interview on PTI in January, and with his Tuesday appearance, we can’t exactly say that Jimmer is unknown.
But even with the rising attention, he still hasn’t yet entered the average sports’ fan collective consciousness. To the average sports fan whose main interest in college basketball is March Madness, the names on the front of the jersey matter much more than those on the back. It is very rare for any player to get national appeal until the brackets are announced in March, and those that do prior to Tournament time are usually something special. Last year, John Wall reached star status early and ended up the eighth most searched athlete in all of sports for the year, thanks to his dazzling early performances and obvious professional potential. But that is rare. College basketball is usually a one-month sport to the average fan and its players are transferrable, rarely becoming household names, especially this early.
But Jimmer is on the cusp of changing that. With his uncanny ability to score and Maravichian flair, sports fans are starting to wonder what is happening in Utah and collectively, Jimmer Fredette is becoming the medium to begin following this college basketball season. There is a buzz around tonight’s San Diego State-BYU game in the sporting world at large and it centers around getting a glance at the underground Jimmer hype. With no games on ESPN or CBS, BYU has been under the national radar, but this game has the attention of all sports fans. Have a big game tonight and Fredette is headed towards the most mainstream attention for a non-BCS league player since Adam Morrison. Throw up a dud and he will lose the average fan until March arrives.
BYU and San Diego State fans care about tonight’s epic battle because it is the biggest game on their favorite team’s schedule. College basketball fans are ready to see two heavyweights go to battle and determine whether they can hang with the big boys in March. But for the average sports fan, tonight’s game on the CBS College Sports Network is about seeing whether the exciting guard with the funny name is worth all the buzz they have been hearing. Both San Diego State and BYU can survive a loss tonight and still chase conference and national glory. But for Jimmer, tonight is about becoming a star. As a Fredette fan from way back, my fingers are crossed. Having the spotlight on college basketball is always good….tonight is the time for Jimmer to seize it.