QUEENSBURY — As they went through drills together Wednesday morning at SUNY Adirondack, both Jimmer Fredette and Joseph Girard III were comfortable in their respective roles.
Fredette talked. Fredette joked. Fredette demonstrated.
Girard III listened. Girard III laughed. Girard III mimicked.
Largely, that is how the relationship between the pair of Glens Falls basketball stars goes. It is a relationship, though, that has grown from Girard III hero-worshipping Fredette to one resembling a big brother/little brother.
Fredette, a dozen years older than Girard III, hammered home that point when asked Wednesday what had changed most in his protege since their last 1-on-1 workout a couple years ago.
“First of all,” Fredette said, “he’s gotten bigger.”
Girard III was a little kid — 4 or 5 years old — when he first met Fredette, who then was Glens Falls’ high-scoring star. At that point, Girard III’s father coached the school’s varsity girls’ basketball team, and both the boys’ and girls’ teams sometimes headed to Girard III’s home for summer barbecues.
“And so I just remember growing up, the whole time, watching him,” Girard III said.
Fredette doesn’t quite remember Girard III from those parties. A few years later, though, Girard III caught Fredette’s attention at basketball camps Fredette worked.
“That kid’s a little bit better than everybody else,” Fredette thought.
That has stayed true, which is why the relationship between Girard III and Fredette has blossomed in the last few years. As Girard III has grown into a bigger star, the 29-year-old Fredette has become a sounding board for the 17-year-old.
The former BYU star and national player of the year has been happy to play that role — and happier their busy schedules synchronized this week so that they could meet up. Girard III has been touring the United States playing AAU basketball as his college recruitment winds down, while Fredette just finished up starring in The Basketball Tournament after playing two seasons in China.
“All the stuff he’s been able to accomplish is special,” Fredette said of Girard III, who averaged 50.0 points per game last winter during a campaign in which he broke New York’s all-time boys’ basketball scoring record. “It’s fun to be able to get in the gym with him, and work out, and see him play and be with him here in real life, because I don’t get to see a whole lot being over in China.”
Fredette, who played in the NBA from 2011 to 2016, will play in China for another season before a potential return to the NBA. The former NBA lottery pick said his showing in The Basketball Tournament worked in his favor toward making such a return possible.
“I know that people took notice, for sure,” Fredette said.
At the moment, Girard III doesn’t have to do much to attract attention. After a lengthy, offer-filled recruitment, Girard III is still considering six schools — Syracuse, Duke, Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State and Boston College — for his college career. Girard III said a decision isn’t imminent, and he could take more visits to those schools as he prepares for his football season.
Both Glens Falls natives are generally in contact through text message. Fredette said his advice to Girard III about his college search has been simple: “Where would you feel comfortable going if you weren’t playing basketball?”
Beyond that, Fredette’s main message to Girard III is to enjoy what is in front of him and to stay true to himself.
“The biggest thing is just to take it [all] in stride,” Fredette said. “Just make sure that you be you.”
That is a message Girard III has received and kept in mind throughout this summer.
“It’s been busy, but it’s been fun at the same time,” Girard III said. “You’ve got to love doing it and you’ve got to live it.”
Most of Wednesday’s hourlong workout was geared toward making that a reality for Girard III, as Fredette worked with him on dribbling moves and mid-range shots he will need to excel at the college and pro levels. Each mini-lesson started with a “So what I want you to do” from Fredette, and an agreeing nod from an appreciative Girard III. Fredette’s trip for a few days to his hometown region didn’t have to include a tutoring session, but Girard III was thrilled it did.
“To know that he carved out time to work out with me, it means a lot,” Girard III said. “I couldn’t thank him enough for being a great role model.”