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BEING A SIDEKICK stinks. You grind and grind while the star, someone such as BYU senior guard Jimmer Fredette, scores more points and gets the majority of the accolades, including a spot on every preseason All-America team. All your accomplishments—second-leading scorer, second in assists—come with that qualifier (second) that constantly reminds you of your place in the world.
"It's O.K.," senior guard Jackson Emery says. "I'm fine with it." He continues, "Jimmer is a great player. I just find ways that I can contribute to the team."
Whether or not you believe Emery—and he seems genuinely content—there is no denying that as far as sidekicks go, the 6'3" shooting guard is one of the best in college basketball. A lockdown defender and the team leader with 85 three-pointers a year ago (Take that, Jimmer!), Emery may not be the main reason BYU broke a streak of seven consecutive first-round NCAA tournament losses, but he was certainly a significant one. And he will be again this year as the Cougars chase loftier goals.
"I'm amazed that he remains unsung," says BYU coach Dave Rose. "He can shoot the three-pointer, he has an effective mid-range game, and he scores a lot of points in transition because of his ability to create turnovers. There is not much he can't do."
Rose believes that with Emery, Fredette and some talented young backups, BYU's backcourt is set. The frontcourt, however, is a big question mark, with a host of untested players and others, such as junior forward Noah Hartsock, who have been solid defenders and rebounders but now must become scorers.
"We have guys who are not proven in doing what we are going to ask them to do this year," Rose says. "It is a group that for us to be successful needs to become consistent to complement what we have in the backcourt."
Sounds like the backcourt needs a sidekick.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE
Coach Dave Rose (6th season)
2009--10 record 30--6