Nothing takes me back to 2011 in Provo, Utah, quite like the YouTube video “Teach Me How to Jimmer” from Feel Good Music Coalition.

In it, a white man with a red goatee, baggy jeans and a BYU beanie raps an ode to Jimmer Fredette, the star of the 2011 BYU basketball team. He rhymes Jimmer with “simmer,” and Fredette with “nothing but net,” to the tune of “Teach me how to Dougie” by Cali Swag District.

“Chuck Norris even has a Jimmer poster,” raps a second white man.

Children in Jimmer jerseys, women with side-swept bangs (even more popular in 2011 than Chuck Norris jokes), and prominent local sportscasters Alema Harrington and Hans Olsen mouth “Teach me how to Jimmer.” The video features iconic Provo locations like Spoon it Up, various buildings on the Brigham Young University campus, and J. Dawgs, where I once interviewed for a job and was not hired because I was not a quick enough hotdog slicer.

Watching this video in 2023 is a deeply uncomfortable experience. I cringe through most of it, remembering the clothes my peers and I wore during that tragic era in fashion, the pop culture references I once thought were funny, and my thwarted career as a hotdog saleswoman.

But I’m also flooded with nostalgia for Jimmermania. And March Madness has me feeling extra warm and fuzzy remembering that magical time in Provo 12 years ago when all anyone could talk about was Jimmer Fredette and the team he might lead to a national championship.

Brigham Young Cougars guard Jimmer Fredette (32) celebrates after beating San Diego State in NCAA basketball action in Provo, Utah, on Jan. 27, 2011. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
A man for all seasons: How Jimmer Fredette found balance and fulfillment

Fredette was playing really great basketball. He was the leading scorer in Division I and was awarded the 2011 National Player of the Year by pretty much every organization that names a player of the year. He won the 2011 Best Male College Athlete ESPY and Kevin Durant tweeted, “Jimmer Fredette is the best scorer in the world!!”

He could make shots from seemingly anywhere on the court and was outplaying the best NCAA players in the country. Fans remember showing up early to games — a practice unheard of up until that time in BYU athletic events — rushing the court and lingering for hours after, celebrating Cougars wins and Jimmer basketball wizardry. Their eyes well with tears as they reminisce on the San Diego State game in which Fredette scored 43 points and won 71-58 over Kawhi Leonard in front of a crowd of 22,700.

During games, fans often proposed marriage by holding up signs in the crowd. Deseret News reporter Jay Drew remembers a sign that read “One if by land, two if by sea, three if by Jimmer.”

When a student wrote a letter to the editor that was published in the Daily Universe calling the Jimmer hype “idol worship,” she was bombarded with comments like, “Barack Obama wishes he was Jimmer” and “Chuck Norris wears Jimmer pajamas.” (I can’t overstate how funny we thought Chuck Norris jokes were at the time). The poor girl was roasted in national media outlets.

I graduated from BYU in 2010, but it was impossible not to get caught up in the hype even in life outside the campus. Messages of support for Jimmer adorned every retail sign in Provo, my Facebook feed was full of BYU basketball posts (between Chuck Norris jokes), and most conversations centered on Fredette, his teammates and our collective hope that BYU could go all the way.

There was a lot of hype. And sometimes that hype got out of hand.

Fredette’s professors became so frustrated by the distraction of fellow students asking Fredette for photos during class that they requested he no longer show up. Fredette had to complete his classes online.

He had to exit the Marriott Center, where the Cougars played, through the loading dock. Fans waited outside team practices to get photos and autographs. If Jimmer and his then-girlfriend Whitney attempted to go anywhere in public, fans swarmed them.

It had to have been exhausting to be the Jimmer of Jimmermania.

BYU fans go crazy for BYU’s Jimmer Fredette during No. 9 BYU vs. No. 4 San Diego State University at the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah on Jan. 26, 2011. | Stuart Johnson, Deseret News
The Lonely Master: From March Madness to Shanghai, the unlikely journey of Jimmer Fredette

But to hear Fredette tell it, the fandom made his career. And he remembers his years at BYU as some of the best in his life.

He speaks fondly of an away game at TCU. The team bus pulled up to thousands of fans waiting outside. Security escorted Jimmer and his teammates into the arena which was already full of local BYU fans.

“It was an epidemic,” he tells me. “It was absolutely incredible. Just so much fun.”

Fredette admits that things got a little crazy, and tells me he spent most of his senior year holed up in his apartment when he wasn’t at games or practice because whenever he emerged in public, he was bombarded. The extremely affable Fredette didn’t like telling people no, and would get sucked into hours of signing and photo-taking.

At one point, a fan approached Fredette with a pair of shoes he wanted autographed. After Fredette signed the old, smelly footwear, the fan informed him he had watched Fredette toss the shoes in a dumpster during his freshman year, fished them out, and kept them for the day Fredette became a phenom. He planned to sell the relics online.

“I appreciated the hustle,” Fredette says.

I ask if fan interactions ever made him nervous. “I would say it was more exhilarating,” he responds after explaining that security was required to break through the throngs of people who swarmed him everywhere he went.

BYU’s Jimmer Fredette high-fives teammates during a shooting drill at practice in the Ford Center in Oklahoma City in preparation for their first round NCAA game against Florida on March 17, 2010. | Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

The fanaticism peaked during March Madness of Fredette’s senior year. When then-President Barack Obama revealed his bracket, he said of Fredette: “Unbelievable. Best scorer obviously in the country. Great talent.”

But the team suffered some unexpected hurdles and lost Brandon Davies, who was also key to the Cougars’ success. BYU defeated Gonzaga and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. But they ultimately lost to the Florida Gators in overtime.

Fredette graduated a few months later, going on to play for the Sacramento Kings, the Chicago Bulls, the New Orleans Pelicans, the Westchester Knicks, the New York Knicks and the Shanghai Sharks where he earned the title “The Lonely Master” until the COVID-19 pandemic.

He now resides in Colorado with his wife, Whitney, and their three kids, but often travels to Utah for his work as a partner in Tandem Ventures. And when he does, he has to be prepared for autograph and photo requests.

But he says he’s grateful.

“It’s 11 years out of this, and to have fans still give that type of support is really, really awesome,” he tells me. “I truly appreciate it. Because without fans, I wouldn’t be able to play professional basketball.”

It’s a mutual appreciation. Because without Jimmer Fredette, 2011 Provo, Utah, would not have been nearly as fun, and I’d have no reason to watch a couple of white guys rap Chuck Norris references in 2023. And that would be a real loss.

BYU’s Jimmer Fredette scores against Eastern Washington at the Marriott Center at BYU in Provo on December 19, 2009. | Michael Brandy, Deseret News