With his college career at an end and the NBA Draft around the corner, BYU legend Jimmer Fredette admits he is feeling the pressure to become the first white, American basketball superstar since Larry Bird.
"We live in a little bit of a bubble in Provo, but we're not completely separated from the rest of the world," said Fredette. "I hear the talk. I know that, right or wrong, some people are really pulling for me because of the color of my skin. But there are good players in the NBA D-League. I don't know if I can go in there and just dominate."
Fredette says he knows he will be drafted and fully intends to try to forge a career in the regular NBA, but believes his best shot to be a game-changer is in the D-League.
"All the hopes and expectations placed on me does not change the fact that I am a 6-foot-2 shooting guard who is a gunner and can't play defense at all. I mean, even a little bit," said Fredette. "At the absolute max of my potential I could maybe be like J.J. Redick in the NBA. That's far short of the hopes people have for me. But have me playing teams like the Fort Wayne Mad Ants and the Erie Bayhawks every night? That's pretty much the same quality as the Mountain West Conference. I might be able to tear it up."
NBA D-League executives say they already have seen a spike in ticket sales in anticipation of Fredette's eventual arrival after being demoted from an NBA roster after training camp.
"We sold 9 tickets yesterday alone," said Chip Riley, general manager of the Dakota Wizards. "Usually we barely sell that many in month. But Jimmer is D-League marketing gold. He's like the Beatles, if the Beatles played basketball and weren't quite as quick."
But before a transcendent D-League career, there is the NBA Draft. Many believe Fredette will be selected by the Utah Jazz.
"We are definitely interested in Jimmer," said Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor. "Our D-League team, the Utah Blast, is fourth in in their division. They could really use some added scoring punch."