Being the greatest player in Mountain West history, which was established in 1999, doesn’t carry the same weight as being the best in Big Ten or Big East history, but BYU’s Jimmer Fredette is certainly making his case.
Fredette is marching towards multiple national player of the year honors, averaging 27.6 points per game as a senior. He has become a national sensation — Air Force had sold all but 200 tickets for Wednesday’s game against BYU at Clune Arena and anticipates a sellout — and might be establishing himself as the best player ever in the conference.
“I think he is,” said Andrea Lloyd, a basketball analyst for the mtn., the conference’s network. “Part of the reason is, when you talk about (Andrew) Bogut or any big man, he needs to get the ball from someone. Jimmer has the ball in his hands all the time and is getting everything thrown at him. What he’s done in the last month-and-a-half has been amazing.”
Fredette set another major conference record last weekend when he passed former San Diego State guard Brandon Heath as the top scorer in Mountain West history. He was named conference player of the week for the seventh time this season and 14th time in his career.
He seems like a lock to win the conference player of the year award — an award he probably would have won last year too had he not been slowed in midseason by mononucleosis.
Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds said he didn’t know if Fredette was the best player he has seen in the conference, settling on Fredette being the best scorer he has faced in the Mountain West.
“You know you’re not going to stop him from scoring,” Reynolds said.
The top five players in Mountain West history:
1. Utah center Andrew Bogut — Averaged 20.9 points and 13.5 rebounds (a conference season record) as a sophomore before going to the NBA to be the first overall pick. He won some national player of the year awards.
2. BYU guard Jimmer Fredette — Fredette is known for his scoring — he has scored at least 40 points in three of BYU’s last seven games — but also has averaged at least four assists each of the last three seasons.
3. New Mexico forward Danny Granger — Granger was never conference player of the year, but that’s because Bogut won it in 2005. He was first-team all-Mountain West both of his seasons at New Mexico and is a star with the NBA’s Indiana Pacers.
4. San Diego State guard Brandon Heath — Was the Mountain West’s all-time scoring leader before Fredette passed him. Was a first-team all-conference pick twice and a second-team pick once.
5. UNLV guard Marcus Banks — A two-time defensive player of the year in the conference, Banks also averaged 20.3 points — the fourth highest total in Mountain West history.