Jimmer Fredette and at least a dozen of the best players from college basketball last year traveled to the Marriott Center for a charity game that did not disappoint. The game featured Jimmer Fredette of BYU and Kawhi Leonard of San Diego State University, with each being coached by their college coaches Dave Rose and Steve Fisher, respectively. The teams were Team Fredette and Team Leonard. Team Leonard won the fast paced alley-oop fest 140-126. Jimmer ended the game with 27 points, 10 assists, and 6 rebounds, a line of stats the Kings fans’ are undoubtedly ecstatic about. Kawhi Leonard finished the game with 24 points and 10 rebounds.
Kawhi started off the scoring with a quick cut to the basket to lay it off the back board. Jimmer answered by splitting the double team on the other end of the floor topped off with a crafty lay-in of his own. That got the scoring going in an extremely high scoring and fast paced game. The starting line-up for Team Leonard included Kemba Walker, Malcolm Lee, Tobias Harris, Bismack Biyombo, and of course Kawhi Leonard. Team Fredette starting line-up included Jimmer, Jackson Emery, Nolan Smith, Kenneth Faried, and Chris Singleton.
Isaiah Thomas quickly became a fan favorite after his steal ended in a fast-break bounce-the-ball-in-the-air-to-himself dunk and high-fiving the backboard at the top of the box. He followed that up with back to back three’s to put the game out of reach for team Fredette. Nolan Smith lead all scorers with 30 points and had a game high 13 assists with pass after pass resulting in incredible dunks by Chris Wright, Kenneth Farried and Tyler Honeycutt. Chris Singleton showcased his defensive prowess with multiple swats but also had a few 3-pointers early in the game.
Team Leonard was impressive on the defensive end of the floor with Bismack recording 5 blocks. His presence down low was definitely noticed by Team Fredette as he finished the game with 10 points and 13 rebounds. Tobias Harris was extremely consistent and put up great numbers and Malcolm Lee showed off his speed with many slashes to the basket. Kemba Walker had a solid scoring game with 24 points, but only ended with 4 assists.
Perhaps the most anticipated aspect of last night’s game was the match-up of Jimmer and Kemba Walker. They both fared well, but Jimmer out-performed Walker in both points and assists. Jimmer consistently stopped Kemba from going to the rim forcing him to throw up circus shots or kick it out in mid jump. Jimmer was guarded as soon as he crossed half court the entire game and drew multiple double teams as Steve Fisher took the side of caution this trip to the Marriott Center. (A funny side-note; at the half a BYUtv reporter asked Steve Fisher how it felt to be back in the Marriott Center this time. Fisher replied, “I’ve never had a team score 72 points here” while his team was sitting on a comfortable lead with 72 points just in the first half.)
Everyone expected Jimmer to put up the points, so that was of no surprise, but Jimmer chipped away at the wall of uncertainty surrounding his defensive ability and how well he will play point at the next level. He consistently found the open man and racked up the assists. He had multiple impressive defensive plays. One play in particular was when Tobias Harris was going up for a dunk only to be blocked from behind by Jimmer. Many times he forced Kemba Walker or Isaiah Thomas into circus and off balances shots. Granted Kemba is no Derrick Rose and Thomas is no John Wall, but Jimmer out performed doubters’ expectations by defending well against NBA level point guards.
The game was definitely a success as 11,000+ fans cheered Jimmer and the other NBA rookies. Hopefully this will not be the only time we will see them play this year. But with the way labor negotiations and talks are going, we will most likely have to wait. Hopefully there will be a quick agreement and we will be able to watch these guys play again soon.