Could Jimmer really be heading to the NBA next year?

With nine regular season games left to go and a 21-2 overall record and 6-1 mark in the Mountain West Conference, the BYU Cougars are in good position to win a fourth-straight league title and get their best seed into the NCAA tournament ever. Barring a total fold job, which I can’t see happening, the Cougars are already a lock for the NCAA tournament.
During halftime of Saturday’s Utah game, Utah athletic director Chris Hill walked through the media room and chatted with reporters. He said he thinks this is the best BYU team he’s ever seen.
But the comments that really caught everyone’s attention Saturday came from Ute coach Jim Boylen, who kind of broke the ice on the topic that BYU fans don’t want to hear or think about. Still, I suspect it will be dominant topic from now until June.
Is there really a chance that Jimmer Fredette won’t return for his senior season, instead opting as an early entry into the NBA draft? Boylen sure thinks so.
Fredette hasn’t ever talked about it to reporters. And I don’t think he will until the year is over, and that’s likely to be his response if asked between now and April. Continuing on and focusing on finishing out this season with a conference championship, a high tournament seed, and a few wins in the tournament will be all he’ll talk about. And that’s how it should be. But he’s probably thinking about it. I know that’s his goal, to play in the NBA some day. But is that time next year?
Honestly, up until the Arizona game I never even considered Jimmer as an early-entry candidate. In fact, I figured he was a second-round pick and might even have to earn a spot on an NBA roster as a free agent. I wasn’t even sure he was NBA caliber. I now think he has the offensive game, and he’s had me in awe several times this year, and he will finish his career at BYU as one of the school’s best ever. But I’m not sure he can defend guys like Deron Williams, Chauncey Billups, Tony Parker and Chris Paul for an 82-game season. When I sat next to a couple of NBA scouts in Las Vegas in December when BYU was playing Nevada, I heard more from them about the Wolf Pack’s Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson than I did Fredette. But I do think that would be different now.
If I was to make a prediction right now, I think he’ll play for BYU next season. And I think he should. Imagine, already, the national preseason hype Fredette is going to get next year. So if he has another season like this one, without battling mono, his stock could really be high. And he should be a better player. But he’s going to be getting some advice from people who know a lot more about his NBA value come April, than me. And I think he’ll make the right decision.
Here’s what Boylen had to say:
“I was just talking to (U. athletic director Chris Hill) and I think he’s the best player in the league in a long time. You know I haven’t been in this league that long, but he’s the best player we’ve played against this year and we’ve played a heck of a schedule. He’s a terrific player, a terrific competitor, he’s a great kid and I think he represents BYU with a lot of class and pride. You should be proud of him. He’s a great player
“He’s going to have a tough decision to make in the spring, I’m telling you. I was in the (NBA as an assistant coach) for 13 years, so he has a heck of decision to make come June 25th or whatever it is. He’s really good, really good. Very few guys have the combination of ball skills, shooting ability, and what he’s improved on is strength and his ability to finish plays at the rim. He is better this year. He’s better at playing through contact.
I was in 13 drafts, and he’s pretty good.”

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