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Former BYU star Jimmer Fredette likes coming back to Utah — even if playing time with Kings is sparse

SALT LAKE CITY — For Jimmer Fredette, returning to Utah has a number of perks.

He likes to see the snow, which was commonplace for the Sacramento Kings guard who grew up in New York before leaving for Provo and BYU, but nonexistent in his NBA home of Sacramento.

He likes to visit family and friends, including his sister, who lives in this state.

And he likes to take the court against an opposing, yet still supportive, fan base.

Whatever the situation, the three-year NBA veteran — and former BYU All-American who inspired the Jimmermania craze of three years ago — has much to appreciate during his trip back to his college home.

“It’s a lot of fun,” he said when the Kings visited EnergySolutions Arena to play the Utah Jazz Saturday night.

“There’s lots of family and friends still here and I’m able to see them and play against fans that I love and played in front of for four years,” Fredette said. “It’s always a special time.”

Even if he only leaves the bench at timeouts.

Fredette has, once again, had a rough start to an NBA season. On a team that had won just four of its first 17 games before meeting the Jazz Saturday, the guard is averaging just 12.2 minutes and 4.0 points per contest. He was the only Sacramento player to not check into the game Saturday.

Behind starting rookie Ben McLemore and five-year veteran backup Marcus Thornton, playing time has been hard to come by. But Kings head coach Michael Malone said Fredette is taking all the right steps to prepare for when his name is called.

“Right now, Jimmer, he’s a pro,” Malone said. “He’s a high-character kid. He’s done everything that we’ve asked him to do and he’s staying ready, which I respect.”

Fredette added that those steps are his primary focus.

“I’m doing fine,” he said. “I continue to work hard and stay positive. I know that I’m going to be a good player in this league. You just continue to think positively and know that you’re going to get an opportunity — and when you do you’ve just got to take advantage of it.”

Until then, he will use his trips back to Utah to soak in the support he continues to receive from the local fan base.

“I just have more support here (than at other opposing arenas), which is great,” he said. “There’s a lot of fans out here and they’re big BYU fans or Jimmer fans, and I appreciate that. And I appreciate them still supporting me through the good times and the bad times. It definitely is a different energy in the building.”

And maybe he will take some time to play in the snow.

Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.