Jimmer Fredette, former BYU basketball star and former lottery pick, scored a career-high 75 points for the Shanghai Sharks in the Chinese Basketball Association.
Fredette, the 2011 College Basketball Player of the Year, scored 40 points in the fourth quarter, but it was not enough for the win. The Sharks lost 137-136 to Beijing Fly Dragons. Increased scoring is not just a product of the NBA, but in China there’s been an explosion in overall scores as well thanks to former NBA-players like Fredette.
Jimo Dashen, the Lonely Master
Playing in his third season in China for the Shanghai Sharks, Fredette is averaging 38 points per game. The Sharks are owned by former NBA player Yao Ming.
The locals gave Fredette the nickname the Lonely God. Fredette was uncomfortable with the God moniker, so he adapted the nickname the Lonely Master instead.
In a game between Shanghai Sharks and the Beijing Fly Dragons, Fredette scored a career-high 75 points on 20-35 from the floor. Fredette finished with 13 three-pointers (on 13-22 shooting), 5 rebounds, and 8 assists in 44 minutes of action.
The loss is what bummed Fredette out the most. On a Chinese social media site, Fredette posted, “Absolutely sick about the loss tonight. But what a game it was! Proud of our guys for fighting back.”
Pierre Jackson finished the night with 63 points including the game winning three-pointer for the Fly Dragons. Jackson is the CBA’s top scorer at 44.7 ppg. Jackson was once known as the “Kevin Durant of the D-League” before he found a home in China.
From Lottery Pick to End of the Bench
Fredette, a 27-year old from Glens Falls, New York, played his collegiate basketball at BYU. At BYU, Fredette broke scoring records previously held by NBA star Danny Ainge. During the 2010-11 season, Fredette led the nation in scoring with 28.9 points per game.
“Jimmer is the best scorer in the country. Great talent,” remarked President Obama when he filled out his 2011 March Madness bracket for ESPN.
The consensus All American became a NBA lottery draft pick and drafted tenth overall by the Milwaukee Bucks. However, he was traded to Sacramento on draft day.
Fredette struggled in his rookie season playing for the Sacramento Kings. In his rookie season, Fredette came off the bench and only averaged 18.6 minutes of playing time per game. He averaged just 7.6 ppg in 61 games. In his second season, Fredette was limited to even less playing time, but still managed to average 7.2 ppg.
In the middle of his third season, the Kings cut Fredette after he averaged 5.9 ppg and fell out of the rotation. Fredette signed on with the Chicago Bulls for the remainder of the season, but he averaged only 4 points in 8 games.
Over the next two seasons, Fredette played for the New Orleans Pelicans and the New York Knicks, but the former top scorer in the country had slipped to the end of the bench and relegated to a mere 3.5 ppg during garbage time.
Scouts cited Fredette’s size at only 6’2″ as part of his problem adjusting to the NBA. His lack of defense was also a concern for coaches. Fredette was considered a “tweener” and stuck in between a point guard and a shooting guard. Fredette could generate points like a shooting guard, but he was not quick enough to compete with elite NBA point guards.
“For non-star players, it’s finding the right situation (to excel) in the NBA,” Fredette told ESPN. “I was never able to find the right situation.”
After five years as a journeyman, Fredette’s career in the NBA fizzled out.
Second Chance in China
In August 2016, Fredette signed a contract with the Shanghai Sharks. The sharks were a lackluster team until Fredette arrived and altered history for the Sharks and the CBA. Since then, Fredette went from a cult hero to a legit superstar.
Fredette’s own teammates were skeptical at first due to his size.
“He was so skinny,” commented one of his new teammates.
Fredette quickly won over his teammates and the city of Shanghai, which is three times larger than New York City. Attendance at Sharks’ games were around 1,000 per game before Fredette arrived. By the end of his first season, the Sharks were selling out every game in their 5,000-person arena.
This is not the first time Fredette dropped 70+ points in a game in China. His previous career high was 73 points during a double overtime affair in his first season. Despite the 73 points, the Sharks lost to the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions.