There is quite a bit of difference between last year’s leading scorer in college basketball and this year’s.
Last year Jimmer Fredette made crazy twisting shots at the rim and unthinkable long shots. This year’s scoring leader, Weber State’s Damian Lillard, drives to the rim and dunks, and gets more of his points in the flow of the game and from mid-range. Fredette had a legion of fans and became a national phenomenon. Lillard is still relatively unknown.
But one true similarity is their humility. Both are likable people who spend little time bragging about their accomplishments. In fact, both go out of their way to sound like they just took advantage of opportunities presented, rather than dominating the competition.
On Thursday I watched Lillard score 40 points — two shy of the Dee Events Center record — in a win over Portland State. When I asked him about leading the nation in scoring, and his numbers slumping for a few previous games, he said, “I don’t get caught up in that stuff. People guard me in a lot of trick ways and my shot wasn’t falling. Everything is just harder.”
He went on to say defenses are getting more physical, but he has become used to it.
“I just lock in on the rim,” he said.
If there is another difference, it is that Lillard doesn’t have as much fanfare as Fredette, the former BYU player.
“I’m more of an under-the-radar guy. The Jimmer names are just not me.”