Saturday, May 25, 2024

Remember Jimmer Fredette? He’s headed to Paris with Team USA’s 3-on-3 squad.

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With the Olympics taking place this year in Paris, basketball fans will have to set their clocks to … Jimmer Time?

Well, fans of a certain high-scoring guard who electrified college hoops in 2010-11 will certainly want to pay extra attention to Team USA — although not the one that usually comes to mind. Rather than going up and down the floor this summer with some of the NBA’s biggest names, Jimmer Fredette will represent his country in the half court as a member of its relatively unheralded three-on-three squad.

The former BYU star, who played in the NBA for several years before taking his shooting prowess overseas, was named by USA Basketball on Tuesday to the three-on-three roster. Fredette, 35, has been a core member of the squad for the past two years, as have the three teammates set for the Summer Games.

Canyon Barry, Kareem Maddox and Dylan Travis will join Fredette at the Olympics. That quartet helped the United States qualify for the 2024 Paris Games with a strong showing last year in the world rankings. The Americans also won silver at the FIBA 3×3 World Cup and gold at the 2023 Pan American Games and the 2022 FIBA 3×3 AmeriCup.

“It’s the way that we wanted it to be,” Fredette said Tuesday (via the Associated Press) of bringing the same roster to Paris. “I think it’s what USA Basketball was looking for, and it’s what we were hoping for.”

Of the four players, Fredette has easily reached the highest levels of the sport’s traditional five-on-five format. At BYU, he was the consensus 2011 men’s college player of the year and led the Cougars to their first berth in the Sweet 16 since 1981. He then was selected 10th overall in the 2011 draft, where his rights were acquired by the Kings, briefly bringing “Jimmer Time” (also often referred to as “Jimmer Mania”) to Sacramento.

While Fredette showed that his ability to hit baskets from long range could translate to the pros — he notched a three-point percentage of 40.2 in Sacramento — his limitations as a 6-foot-2 combo guard were exposed. The Kings waived him in 2014, after which Fredette quickly bounced around to the Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Pelicans and New York Knicks. He also had a six-game stint in 2019 with the Phoenix Suns.

Starting in 2016, Fredette spent several seasons with the Chinese Basketball Association’s Shanghai Sharks, with whom he once posted a 73-point game. The Glens Falls, N.Y., native has also played in Greece’s top league and, domestically, in several installments of The Basketball Tournament.

Of his U.S. three-on-three teammates, Barry has the strongest pedigree as the son of Hall of Famer Rick Barry and the half brother of former NBA players Jon, Drew and Brent Barry. Canyon Barry, a 30-year-old who has played in the G League and in several overseas leagues, began his three-on-three career in 2019.

“In the Barry family, it’s very hard to do something in the basketball realm that hasn’t been previously accomplished,” he said Tuesday, “whether it’s winning NCAA championships, winning NBA championships, becoming members of the Hall of Fame, playing in the All-Star Game. There are very few areas of basketball that have been unexplored by the Barrys, so to become an Olympian and kind of round out that portfolio is a cool treat.”

Maddox, 34, played at Princeton and spent a few years as a producer for NPR — even serving as a local host of “All Things Considered” — before gravitating back to basketball. The 30-year-old Travis played at Division II Florida Southern College and went overseas to keep his hoops dreams alive for a few years. His LinkedIn bio lists him as having been a special-education teacher and basketball coach since 2019.

Team USA three-on-three coach Joe Lewandowski said Tuesday that assembling the Olympic roster involved seeking “the best group of four guys that are going to give you the best chance to win.”

“You’re not looking for an all-star team,” Lewandowski added. “You’re not looking for the highest jumpers, the fastest guys. You’re looking for the best team, the guys who play so well together they take their game to another level.”

In keeping with its half-court setting, three-on-three is played with one hoop that both teams alternately attack and defend. The winner, per Olympic rules, is the first team to 21 points or the team with the most points after 10 minutes. Shots from what would be a three-point line in traditional basketball count for two points in three-on-three, with makes from inside the arc counting for a single point.

After Olympic organizers debuted three-on-three at a youth event in 2010, the sport was first included in the senior program at the Tokyo Games in 2021. The U.S. men’s team did not qualify for that tournament, but a squad of American women — featuring WNBA veterans Kelsey Plum, Stefanie Dolson, Jacquelyn Young and Allisha Gray — won gold.

With the addition this year of a men’s three-on-three squad, Team USA will have a chance to win an unprecedented four gold medals in basketball at one Games. If nothing else, Fredette and Co. will be expected to reach the podium. Between its men’s and women’s basketball teams, the United States has never failed to medal across 30 combined Olympic appearances, taking gold 25 times.

“USA Basketball has the highest of standards,” Lewandowski said in a statement, “and now the hard work begins to reach our gold medal dream.”

Fredette, who was a member of a 2010 select squad that scrimmaged against Team USA, said last year that “making it to the Olympics” with his three-on-three teammates was “what it’s been all about for us.”

“I’ve been fortunate enough to represent our country a few times,” he said then, “but the Olympics is a whole different level.”

The Team USA five-on-five men’s roster for the Paris Olympics has yet to be revealed. In January, an announced pool of candidates featured 41 names, including LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry. The Athletic reported last month that the expected core of the team could include those three plus Jayson Tatum, Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday and possibly Joel Embiid.

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