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CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Point isn't clear: Fredette won't fail in NBA

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Jimmer Fredette is not an undersized scoring guard.

He's a point guard.

And he has decent size for a point guard.

Contrary to popular opinion, Jimmer Fredette can pass and create offense for teammates. (Getty Images)  
Contrary to popular opinion, Jimmer Fredette can pass and create offense for teammates. (Getty Images)  
So when you hear people this week debating whether a franchise would be making a mistake to take an undersized scorer in the lottery, please correct them and tell them the former BYU star isn't an undersized scorer. Tell them he's a 6-foot-2 point guard. Then tell them a franchise won't regret selecting last season's CBSSports.com National Player of the Year as much as other franchises are going to regret passing on him.

I believe that with all of my heart and brain.

I know Jimmer Fredette was a great college player.

I also believe he's going to be a better-than-most-believe professional because most seem to be focusing too much on what they think Fredette can't do as opposed to highlighting what it is he can do -- like handle the ball, create, shoot and ... pass.

Yes, Jimmer can pass.

I realize most people either don't know this or refuse to acknowledge it, but it's true. Fredette has great vision and is almost as good at creating for others as he is at creating for himself. Granted, he didn't always demonstrate this in college -- mostly because Fredette creating for others didn't usually give BYU as good a chance to win as Fredette creating for himself and scoring in bunches. So Jimmer did what he had to do and he did it well. He got his shot off against low-major opponents, mid-major opponents and high-major opponents. He scored on small guys and big guys. He scored in the half-court and in transition. But when opponents tried to make him give the ball up by running as many as three defenders at him, Fredette typically also made them pay -- most notably back on Feb. 26 when he consistently found open shooters and finished with nine assists in an 80-67 win at San Diego State.

So, again, Jimmer can pass.

It just wasn't a normal requirement at BYU.

Neither was guarding, by the way.

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Yes, Fredette was a terrible defender in college, but lots of that was by design because Dave Rose didn't want his primary ball-handler and best -- and sometimes only -- offensive weapon using too much energy on the defensive side of the court, meaning Fredette was allowed to be lackadaisical on defense for long stretches. The positive was that it allowed him to run around on offense and average 28.9 points per game. The negative was that Fredette got so used to not guarding that he didn't know how to guard in the final minutes of close games, specifically the final minutes of BYU's overtime loss to Florida in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

So if you want to argue that Jimmer was a terrible defender in college, fine, I can't reasonably argue otherwise. But it's not necessarily indicative of what he'll be in the NBA, and, either way, how many point guards enter the league as capable defenders anyway? That he'll struggle guarding Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook should surprise nobody. But guess who else struggles to guard Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook? Pretty much everybody, which is why arguments built around those hypothetical matchups are always silly. Fredette will be a below-average defender, sure. But there are lots of below-average defenders playing heavy minutes in the NBA. A smart coach will figure out a way to keep him on the court because Fredette's going to be very good at other things ... like creating and shooting.

Am I predicting stardom?

Not necessarily, no.

But the idea that Jimmer Fredette will be a bust is silly. He can create and shoot. He's tough. He's a gamer. His positives outweigh his negatives. And the franchise that recognizes that Thursday will benefit from it for years.


Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for CBSSports.com and frequent contributor to the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts the highest-rated sports talk radio show -- The Gary Parrish Show -- in the history of Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two children and a dog.
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