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It's starting to feel like Madness eve, and citizens all across the nation should grab their TV remotes, sit comfortably, and get fired up for some special entertainment these next few weeks.  

The men's college national basketball festival, known as March Madness, launches on March 15th. The tournament odyssey happens every year and culminates at the Final Four April 2nd and 4th in Houston, Texas. Last second buzzer beaters, big upsets, predictable victories, tears of joy and sadness, office bracket pools-you can count on them every year.

What will be new this year, however, is a real life lesson about how small town kids can make it to the big-time through hard work and the determination to prove skeptics wrong. This story will play out amid the attention and excitement surrounding one player with an odd yet hip name: Jimmer Fredette. This unstoppable scorer---leading the nation at 27 points per game and likely to be named the National Player of the Year-grew up in Glens Falls, New York near Albany. 

Coming out of high school, Fredette was relatively unheralded, landing just a handful of Tier 2 Division 1 scholarships; one was offered by Siena College in Albany. Even though as a kid he attended Syracuse University basketball camps, they passed on him as scholarship material. What a mistake. My bet is getting overlooked for this scholarship fueled Jimmer's desire to prove them all wrong, and his small town, underdog roots fueled his passion to be great. He's as a great as he is because people told him he couldn't be. I've got to believe Syracuse wishes they had him now; their chances of winning the national championship would be much more realistic.

Brigham Young University, not known as a basketball powerhouse, offered him a scholarship. There he refined his skills. I believe he sweated by himself in the gym, taking thousands and thousands of shots for days and weeks and months and years.  His scoring average climbed each year while in college, from 7 points a game as a freshman, to 16 as a sophomore, to 22 as a junior and now 27 as a senior.

Jimmer's range is from anywhere inside the gym. Everyone loves to watch a guy who can make shots from deep. This guy is all about doing that all game long. The difference with Jimmer is while other guys try these long-distance bombs, he makes a much higher percentage than the rest of them.

Fredette has led the #7 ranked BYU Cougars (28 wins and 3 losses) into the tournament with a chance to make it the Final Four. Let's hope that happens for pure entertainment purposes and to inspire kids that they can make it to the top of the mountain, too. He is the most mesmerizing college basketball player. Already in his career he has scored 49, 47 and 43 points in separate games. The longer his team stays alive, the more shots from 30 feet Jimmer will drain, the more fun we will have watching, the more you will hear people buzzing about that guy from BYU who can shoot like no one they've ever seen. Jimmer will be our emotional bridge between the winter we have been enduring and the clinging of aluminum bats baseball diamonds.

No one in college basketball makes more shots from as far away from the basket as Jimmer. Some experts are already saying he can make shots from further out more consistently than any player in professional basketball.

Every once in a generation a basketball player like Jimmer come along to light up America. In the early 1970s it was Pistol Pete Maravich, who averaged 44 points per game at Lousiana State University after also being raised in a diminutive town called Aliquippa, PA (population 11,000). In the late 70s Larry "Legend" Bird dazzled with his incredible touch from downtown. Leading Indiana State University to the National Title Game, Bird grew up in French Lick, Indiana (population 2,000).

Maravich and Bird, and now Jimmer, continue to prove that any kid from any where no matter how small a town they grow up in, through grit and focus, can become the best.

 

March 8, 2011  05:37 PM ET

Please don't compare Fredette to Bird and Pistol Pete. It's a crime to even mention JF in the same d*mn sentence with those two all time greats! If you really want a more accurate comparsion of JF compare him to Adam Morrison. A college superstar who disappeared in the NBA. And the same will happen to Fredette. I have seen him play in person enough times his first three years at BYU and for all of his college greatness it won't translate to NBA stardom. He will be a 3 point specialist at the next level...at best.

March 9, 2011  10:16 AM ET

Thanks for your comment, what's_amatta_u. Good insights. I was comparing Jimmer's college career to that of Maravich of Bird. All three led the nation in scoring their senior years. All three had the chance to lead their teams deep into the NCAA tourney. All three came from small towns and, through hard work, made themselves great college players. All three proved to be especially thrilling to watch. And all three were exceptionally accurate shooters from long range, and guys like this are a joy to watch. In fact, I would argue that from long distance Jimmer might be the best shooter of the three. I did not say Jimmer would do as well in the pros as Bird and Pistol. Bird and Pistol were once in a lifetime players who could do it so many things well. Jimmer does three things well but not as many as those two. He shoots well, creates his own shot well, and dribbles and dishes to teammates well. Comparing Jimmer is Adam Morrison is a bit insulting to Jimmer. While at least as good a shooter as Adam, Jimmer is better at creating his own shot, handling the ball and passing. He is much closer to a point guard than Adam has ever been. Plus, you can't overlook Jimmer's heart and work ethic. My gut tells me he has a bigger heart and is willing to work harder than Morrison. Therefore, he will be more successful in the pros.

March 10, 2011  11:55 AM ET

I don't think that Jimmer will be able to get his own shot off at the next level. What do you think his #'s would be like if BYU was in one of the six power conferences instead of a mid-major? I'm saying he would have struggled greatly. Just put an athletic SG on JF and he has noticeable problems creating opportunities for himself. And looking back at it maybe it was a little cold to compare him to AM. I just mentioned him becasue of the great college career AM had compared to the nonexistent NBA career he's had.

 
March 12, 2011  11:38 AM ET

I stand corrected, kind of. JF had a helluva game last night. Then again I'm not doubting his college hoops abilities. He a great one. That doesn't always translate into a solid NBA career.

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