Kirk Wessler

Fredette, Moore accomplish what few others can because they were seniors

by Kirk Wessler April 06, 2011 in Men's Basketball, Women's Basketball

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Maya Moore led Connecticut to 150 victories and two NCAA women’s basketball championships.  Jimmer Fredette led Brigham Young to 114 victories, four NCAA bids and the school’s first Sweet 16 appearance in 30 years.

Two players, 264 victories.

When it comes to intercollegiate competition, only seniors have a chance to pile up numbers like those. And few who have the chance are able to achieve such a level of team success, but when they do, other accolades aren’t far behind.

Moore and Fredette both took home most player-of-the-year awards for the 2010-11 season.

But the players of the year on the court also were people-of-the-year-caliber off of it, and that’s why they’re college basketball’s Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award winners for 2011.  It’s the first time since 2006 that either the men’s or women’s Senior CLASS winner also has been the basketball POY.

Fredette captivated the nation with his unlimited shooting range and array of moves to the basket as he led Division I in scoring this season.  But when BYU coach Dave Rose recently was asked to explain what made Fredette special, Rose immediately focused on all those games won and what they represent in the bigger picture.

“That’s Jimmer,” Rose said. “He’s a winner.”

On the court, that meant Fredette played a backup role as a freshman, not starting a single game. When his turn came, Fredette became a playmaker, then a shooter, then a big-time scorer with a pro future.  With each evolution of his personal game, though, the goal remained the same: “Help the team win,” Rose said. “That’s what he does.”

Off the court, the guy known all over the basketball world simply as “Jimmer” is known as a humble young man of great character.

“It’s more important to be a good person and a good role model for kids than anything else,” Fredette says.  “You never know when somebody is watching.”

Everybody watches Fredette when he has a basketball in his hand. That’s the way our society rolls. But few were watching in the summer of 2009, when Fredette accompanied a group of BYU student-athletes on a service trip to Nicaragua. The experience gave him an even greater perspective on life outside the limelight.

“Those people we worked with in Nicaragua didn’t have anything, but they were some of the happiest people I’ve ever met,” Fredette says.  “I learned it doesn’t take much to be happy. What it takes is your relationships and your family. That’s all you need.”

It can be tempting to split up the “four Cs” of the Lowe’s award – competition, classroom, community and character – as if they are independent of each other.  But when you’re talking about the CLASS award finalists and winners, you quickly see that’s the wrong train of thought.

“It’s all connected,” Moore says. “Everything I’ve been part of is related to each other.”

Competition carries over to the classroom, where Moore is an academic all-American and a former candidate for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. Her excellence in both areas has provided Moore opportunities to reach out to young people through groups such as Athletes In Action, and she relishes the chance to make a difference in the lives of others. That character, in turn, cycles right back around to the basketball court, where she is the first three-time winner of the Wade trophy as the top player in college women’s hoops.

Moore is as good an example as you’ll ever find of the total package embodied in the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, and her passion is for others to reach their own potential.

“Seeing someone not get an opportunity to do things, not being able to get a chance to reach their potential or live the dream … that ticks me off,” Moore says. “I always want to be a good example of dreaming big and treating people with respect.

“That’s what I had in my life, with my mom, and it’s paid off. If I can plant a seed, and not always in kids but other adults, that’s what we’re here for.”