Jimmer Fredette became a one-name star in his senior season at Brigham Young. Notre Dame’s head coach Mike Brey had a slightly less drastic meteoric rise, but both ended the season with some impressive hardware.
Leading the country in scoring helped, as did being on a team that spent the second half of the season ranked in the top 10.
On Friday, Fredette, excuse me, Jimmer was selected the Associated Press Player of the Year.
“It’s been quite a ride and it’s been a lot of fun and I wouldn’t take anything back,” Fredette said. “I had quite the career at BYU. There were a lot of ups and downs, but there were a lot more ups this year.”
The Cougars won the Mountain West Conference regular-season title and lost to San Diego State in the tournament final. A No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament, they lost to Florida in overtime in the round of 16 and finished with a 32-5 record.
“I just knew right from the beginning we could have a very good year with the guys returning, and it was one of the most talented teams I’ve ever played on,” said Fredette, who averaged 28.5 points. “Then we started to play well and beat Arizona, and I knew from there we could be a force. That’s what happened because we stayed hungry all year, and that’s what separated us from other teams.”
Notre Dame’s Mike Brey was selected the Coach of the Year as he led the Fighting Irish to a second-place finish in the Big East and a No. 5 ranking in the final poll.
“The personality of this group was so stable whether it was a big win or a loss, they stayed stable,” said Brey, who has been at Notre Dame for 11 seasons. “When they had great wins it didn’t change them. When they had a tough loss it didn’t change them. Stable is the word.”
Fredette received 48 votes from the 65-member national media panel that selects the weekly Top 25. The voting was done before the NCAA tournament.
Kemba Walker of Connecticut was second with 11 votes. Nolan Smith of Duke had five and Jared Sullinger of Ohio State one.
“To see Jimmer progress and become a leader of his team, that will be his basketball legacy,” BYU coach Dave Rose said. “He is driven not just to be the best player he can, but it was how he helped his teammates to win. He always found a way. That’s what I’ll remember most.”
Fredette is the first BYU player to win the award and the first from the Mountain West since Andrew Bogut of Utah in 2005.
Next up for the 6-foot-3 Fredette is the NBA Draft.
“I just feel like as long as I can get into the right situation I can be successful, but it’s all about the situation,” he said. “Hopefully when I get in that situation I’ll prove that I can play and earn the respect of my teammates, coaches and general manager, everybody involved, and hopefully play well for them.”
Brey led the Fighting Irish to a 27-7 record, their second-most wins in a season. Their 14-4 mark in the Big East tied their record for conference victories. Notre Dame was a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, losing to Florida State in the third round.
Brey drew 28 votes, 14 more than runner-up Steve Fisher of San Diego State.
Brey is the first Notre Dame coach to win the award, and he is the second straight Big East coach to get it following Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim last year.
Winning an early-season tournament in Orlando, Fla., let Brey know he had the makings of a good team.
“I made sure we cut the nets down in Orlando and the Disney people said ‘We don’t do that.’ I said ‘You do this year. Get a ladder.’ As an independent for so long we didn’t have a lot of chances to cut the nets down. For the big picture and this year, that was a huge confidence boost.”
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