This past summer I drove two hours to Georgia State’s basketball arena. Was it to watch my Panthers play basketball? No, it was not. It was to watch the much touted matchup between Scarlet and Grey and Team Fredette in the quarterfinals of the Basketball Tournament, an open-application basketball tournament held each year.
When I first learned of basketball I was living in Columbus, OH, minutes from the Ohio State University and their sports teams of old, featuring Troy Smith, James Laurinaitis, Mike Conley, Greg Oden, and Othello Hunter. I was taken. Smith was wild—elusive and capable of big plays at the unlikeliest times. Laurinaitis’ dad was professional wrestler Road Warrior Animal, and that’s real cool. Conley and Oden were dynamic and flanked by a stellar supporting cast—Othello Hunter, David Lighty, and Daequan Cook. My love for Ohio State basketball only grew from there. Through Jared Sullinger and Evan Turner, and up to Aaron Craft, before quickly becoming so much harder to love—as much as Keita Bates-Diop tried to help.
So, when I stumbled across the news that a team made up of Aaron Craft, Greg Oden, Jared Sullinger, three legends, and fellow Buckeye teammates, would be playing nearby, I had to see it. And even better, they were facing off against Jimmer Fredette. Much to my disappointment, Scarlet and Grey were a bummer. Greg Oden played about 2 minutes before his knees gave out. Sullinger, a solid NBA player at one time and dominating force in the tournament until this point, had gotten married a few days before the game and was not feeling like continuing his domination. Aaron Craft did try really hard and that was great, and Jon Diebler lit up from 3. But the real show was Jimmer Fredette, their opponent.
After an electrifying career at Brigham Young University, Fredette had floundered in the NBA for years before going to play in the Chinese Basketball Association. In China he would average over 35ppg in both of his two seasons while shooting nearly 40% from the 3-point line. And he dominated the Buckeyes alumni team. He had total control of the game. He was in top notch shape. He executed anything he wanted to. And he was back to his old ways pulling near half court 3-point shots and draining them. I was nothing but impressed after seeing him play. It was almost as cool as standing a few feet from Greg Oden and his massive knees and realizing just how enormous he is. And now Jimmer is back, having signed a 2-year deal with the Phoenix Suns. And I wish him the best.