MIAMI (AP) – For Sacramento rookie Jimmer Fredette, there’s one aspect of the NBA life that’s proving difficult to handle.
It’s not the intricate defenses, not the physicality, not even the demanding schedule, even though he confesses that he’s gotten his hotel room number in one city confused with what it was the previous night in another city.
It’s the losing.
Over the last six years – his four college seasons at BYU and his final two starring at Glens Falls High School in upstate New York – Fredette’s teams went 158-31. The Kings will take a 10-21 record into their game Tuesday in Miami against LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the NBA-leading Heat, so at the team’s current rate, Fredette will experience far more losses this season than he had in the past half-dozen combined.
“Keep playing hard and eventually things will turn around,” Fredette said. “You’ve just got to instill a winning attitude within the team. Everybody’s got to have it. You can’t just have a losing mentality even though you’re on a losing team. That’s something I think that guys can fall into. … That’s something I try not to get used to. You always stay mad. You always stay ready to go so you can try to keep winning basketball games.”
Which is why, after a two-hour practice in Miami on Monday, Fredette spent more time on the court taking dozens of long jumpers, then arranging for some weightlifting time before he would return to the team hotel.
This season might be slipping away from the Kings, but Fredette knows his NBA process is only beginning.
“This year is crazy, especially just with the travel and how many games we play. It’s abnormal, and also with the short training camp and a coaching change a couple weeks in,” Fredette said. “Everything’s happened. I’ve seen it all in my rookie year.”
Fredette is averaging 8.0 points on 37 percent shooting so far for Sacramento, which has lost five straight going into Tuesday. As can be expected, his transition from college – where he was The Associated Press player of the year last season – to the NBA has been somewhat rocky at times. Fredette had four straight double-figure scoring games in late January, with only one since.
Around the league, some believe it’s only a matter of time before Fredette finds his groove.
“He knows how to play the game and he knows how to score the ball,” Heat forward LeBron James said. “It doesn’t matter what level you’re on – if you’re averaging 29 points in college or high school or whatever the case may be, you know how to put the ball in the hoop. He’s explosive when he has his opportunity. His opportunity right now has been going up and down. Of course, we’ve all seen that. But when he’s had an opportunity, he’s known how to play.”
Five years ago, when he was leading his high school team to a state final and setting scoring records, Fredette would have probably never imagined that someone like James would be saying that about him.
It seems almost commonplace now, especially after Fredette saw his stock just keep soaring throughout his college career.
“It means a lot, for sure,” Fredette said. “Just recognizing that some of the best players in the world know who you are and know that you can be a good player in this league and respect your game. And that’s something you’ve been working for your entire life. So it’s a great compliment to have someone like that say that. But at the same time, you know, I’m not there yet.”
So he’s working. Getting up the extra shots, doing the extra work, whatever it takes to prove that he belongs.
It’s the path he took at Glens Falls, it’s the path he took at BYU, and he sees no reason to change the formula this time.
“I can’t get complacent,” Fredette said. “I have to go out and continue to improve and work. You can’t just live off of what other people say. You’ve got to show it yourself and make them a believer. That’s what I have to do now.”
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Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.