Jimmer Fredette has played his last college basketball game. And so, he's likely reached the height of his American popularity.
No. 2 Florida knocked off No. 3 BYU Thursday night, winning 83-74 in overtime of the Southeast regional semifinals. Fredette, with a bandage on his chin, didn't have his finest game. It was 32 points on 11-of-29 shooting, 3-of-15 from long range. He did not score in overtime.
Only when you've wowed crowds like No. 32 did for the past two years does 32 points seem like a disappointment. It is, obviously, appropriate. Early conventional thought leaned toward the notion BYU could/would be in good shape against Florida because Fredette started cold against the Gators. It just wasn't enough. In second-weekend play, playing catch up gets everyone in trouble at one point or another.
So we're cut short of the Final Four run few thought possible but some warmed up to after the Cougars looked so good in the opening weekend.
Who outside of Gainesville didn't want to see the Jimmer Rock Tour continue for at least two more days? People who hate fun, that's who. Counter-culture freaks, I say. All credit for Florida for playing up to its lofty seed expectation (seriously, Gators, great job; a lot of people, including me, roasted your unrighteous "2" that was attached to your name 11 days ago), but there's a tinge of sadness that BYU couldn't keep it going. The tournament annually brings not-ready-for-it ends to college careers every year. Fredette's only the latest, even if among the most well-known, players to get rolled out on the conveyor belt.
The good news: Fredette's legacy at BYU will last for decades; it's easy to argue he's the most important sports figure in the history of that university.
Though he never reached the Elite Eight — something Danny Ainge did — his pop culture relevance (which was only boosted by his funny-sounding name) reached heights that only two or three players in college basketball do ... per decade.
The YouTube tributes and year-end awards will continue in the next two weeks, and then we'll turn our heads to the NBA, where Fredette's expectations are rightfully tempered and cloudy. But let's take this moment now to enjoy what he did for college basketball. You can't take away the insane, trademarked long-distance shots and the savvy ability to score all over the floor. His defense was bad — his offense more than made up for it.
Fredette went from local favorite to underground cult hero to full-blown national sensation in the past 24 months. It'll be a long time before we see anything like him again, if that's even possible.
His name will live on, undoubtedly. In 14 years, a flurry of boys will flood basketball tryouts at their local high schools, shooting ill-advised shots from 25 feet, hoping to impress the coaches evaluating them for freshmen, JV and varsity play. A good number of them will be named Jimmer.
That's power, that's iconic, and that's a legacy sure to endure.
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