Jimmer Fredette calls it like he sees it — and he sees BYU’s signing of Russian star Egor Demin as a sign of the times.

“It’s a massive deal. It really is,” Fredette told the “Y’s Guys” podcast just hours after BYU announced Demin had been cleared by the NCAA and was an official member of Kevin Young’s first roster as the Cougars’ head coach.

“It just shows coach Young’s reach and shows that BYU is a viable option for top-10 lottery projected picks coming into their first year of college, the actual one-and-done player,” he said. “That’s what (Demin) could be and because of that, you have guys that are looking at us differently. They are saying ‘Oh, wow, this kid is going to BYU?’ Then that’s a viable option (for them) because we know he is going to be an NBA talent.”

Major wind changes at BYU after recent recruiting wins

Demin is expected in Provo on Thursday. The Moscow native spent the last three academic years playing in Real Madrid’s Under-18 program in Spain. ESPN projects him as the No. 9 lottery pick in next year’s NBA draft.

The 6-foot-9 freshman won’t turn 19 until next March when the Cougars complete their second season in the Big 12 and just ahead of what they hope will be a back-to-back appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

Fredette arrived at BYU to little fanfare and even less expectations, however, by the time he entered the NBA, those circumstances were just the opposite. Demin won’t have the luxury of being a pleasant surprise and Fredette doesn’t think that will be a problem for him.

BYU’s former Russian basketball star sees big things ahead for Cougars’ top prospect

“First of all, he’s been playing professionally with Real Madrid, which is one of the best, if not the best, clubs in Europe. It wasn’t their top-level team, but those expectations to be able to perform at a high level on those types of teams are really, really high,” said Fredette, who played for Panathinaikos (Greece) in 2019-20. “The fans over there are crazy. They expect a lot. They are in your face about it. You know if you play well or don’t play well. So, I don’t know if that’s going to be as big of an issue for him coming over here.”

Clashes at the likes of Kansas, Arizona, Houston and San Diego State will be full of emotion, but Fredette believes Demin is tailor-made for it.


“I think European guys come over with a different level of confidence in their game because they have played against professionals and have played in front of these kinds of crowds before,” he said.

New BYU basketball coach Kevin Young spreaks during a segment of "BYU Sports Nation" on May 10, 2024.
New BYU basketball coach Kevin Young spreaks during a segment of "BYU Sports Nation" on May 10, 2024. | Nate Edwards, BYU Photo

Demin’s impact on BYU both immediately and long term remains to be seen. The Cougars have never had a 6-foot-9 guard in program history. Fredette acknowledges Demin may be the first “big fish” that Young and his staff have caught, but he won’t be last.

“It definitely changes the game and I think you have seen that a lot in the signings Coach has had and the people he is offering,” Fredette said. “The people that are coming for visits at BYU are not typical visits that you would see at BYU up until this point. I think it just goes to show the staff that he has, the reach that he has, and obviously his NBA prowess of being able to coach the best players in the world.”

Dave McCann is a sportswriter and columnist for the Deseret News and is a play-by-play announcer and show host for BYUtv/ESPN+. He co-hosts “Y’s Guys” at ysguys.com and is the author of the children’s book “C is for Cougar,” available at deseretbook.com.

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