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  • Paul Kitagaki Jr. / pkitagaki@sacbee.com

    Jimmer Fredette, left, has done everything he needed to do in the offseason to earn more minutes, according to coach Keith Smart, but the second-year player is averaging under 10 minutes a game.

  • Hector Amezcua / hamezcua@sacbee.com

    Jimmer Fredette of the Kings returns tonight to the state where he was a college superstar.

  • Marcus Thornton

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Kings' Fredette still given star treatment in Utah

Published: Friday, Nov. 23, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1C

Before tonight's game against the Jazz in Utah, Jimmer Fredette won't be treated like a player averaging 9.1 minutes for the Kings.

He'll be surrounded by media like a player who has emerged as one of the NBA's brightest stars.

But Fredette has yet to emerge as a consistent part of the Kings' rotation. None of that will matter to a large portion of fans at EnergySolutions Arena.

Fredette is still popular in Utah, even if the game is in Salt Lake City, home of the rival University of Utah, which brings out some boos. He starred at BYU in Provo and was the consensus National Player of the Year as a senior in 2011.

"It's always going to be fun to go back there," Fredette said. "I have a lot of family and friends, and great things happened there, so it will always be a great time to go back and see everybody and be able to play. You only go back twice a year. I get back in the summertime, but that's the only time I get back to Utah."

Returning to Utah is a reminder of how great things were for Fredette as a college star. But it's also a reminder of how his NBA career has yet to take off in similar fashion.

Kings coach Keith Smart said Fredette has a right to be upset with the spotty playing time. Even after saying he needed to work Fredette into the lineup more because of his proficiency on offense, Smart has not done so consistently.

"I just want to keep him growing as a pro, that's all," Smart said. "And when he gets his opportunity to get on the floor, he's productive. That's all you want a young player to do – if the opportunity is there for him, he takes advantage of it."

Sometimes that means maximizing the seconds. In just 7.7 seconds played against the Lakers on Wednesday, Fredette registered an assist.

Fredette, who managed to score five points in two minutes when the Kings defeated the Warriors on Nov. 5, averages 6.1 points on 51.2 percent shooting. When he gets to build on those statistics is anyone's guess.

"You may have a moment where a guy comes in and gives you the right spark to help you win that game that night," Smart said.

Fredette remains popular at home games, usually entering the game to the loudest cheers of any Kings reserve.

"You've just got to stay ready," Fredette said. "You know at some point you're going to get an opportunity to play in the game, and when you do, you have to be ready and show that you can stay on the floor."

Smart said since the end of last season Fredette has done all that's been asked of him to earn playing time. And there is really no answer to why Fredette is not playing more often.

"What he's been doing is preparing himself everyday in pre-practice, pre-shootaround, he's getting his work in to keep himself sharp," Smart said. "And that's all you can do for a young player. The way our roster is set up, we don't have a dynamic, set eight- to nine-man rotation."

Fredette hopes his hard work is rewarded with more playing time. His goal is to earn more trust by staying aggressive whenever he has a chance to play.

"It's all about being mentally prepared," Fredette said. "And when you do get that opportunity, you're ready to go, or else it could slide by."

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Jason Jones



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