Glens Falls stars reconnect in old gym
GLENS FALLS — Joseph Girard III appreciates any chance he can get to improve his game.
So when the opportunity arose to get a few more pointers from the basketball legend he followed at Glens Falls High School — Jimmer Fredette — the Syracuse University freshman came home for the weekend.
Fredette, who is in town for his cousin’s wedding, put Girard through a 45-minute workout Saturday morning in the high school’s auxiliary gymnasium. They worked on a series of shooting drills, including off-balance shots and quick-step-and-shoot drills.
“He’s been through everything I want to do: he’s played at the college level, he’s been a national player of the year, he’s gone to the NBA. He knows exactly what he’s doing — he’s a pro,” said Girard, who first trained with Fredette between his freshman and sophomore years of high school. “I just appreciate him taking the time to help me extend my game to be successful at the college level.”
Fredette, on a short break from training camp with his new pro team in Greece, said he understands what Girard will face as an average-sized combo guard at the major-college level. Both are about 6-foot-2.
“They’re going to put bigger, longer, more athletic guys on him to try to not let him shoot — that’s what they did to me,” said Fredette, who was a college star at BYU. “So he has to use his smarts, his quickness and his agility to be able to get away from guys and get his shot off quicker.”
The 30-year-old Fredette, clad in a purple Phoenix Suns hoodie, put Girard — 12 years his junior and wearing some Syracuse gear — through drills intended to recreate shots from odd angles. Those are the shots Girard will have to take, and make, against the competition he will face at Syracuse. The Orange open the season Nov. 6 at home against defending national champion Virginia.
“I just put him through a workout that I do during the season to show him what he can do to keep his skills sharp, to get a lot of shots off in a quick, short time … and to work on a few finishes at the end,” Fredette said.
“Every time I meet with Jimmer, it’s always about footwork, it’s about different angles to score,” Girard said. “We’re not the tallest guys or the strongest or fastest guys, so we have to figure out different ways to score. You can’t just be a shooter, you can’t just be a spot-up guy, you have to be able to do it every different way. He teaches me a lot of that.”
Fredette, who spent the last three seasons playing pro ball for the Shanghai Sharks in China, made a brief return to the NBA with Phoenix at the end of last season. He then left the Golden State Warriors’ summer-league team in July to sign a two-year deal with the Greek team Panathinaikos of the Euroleague, a popular destination for former NBA players.
“It’s just kind of the right fit,” Fredette said. “I don’t think I would be going back to Shanghai if I was going back to China. Shanghai was a great city and I loved it, but I just felt like it was a new challenge and a new opportunity that I think I needed in my career at this point, and I’m excited about it.”
Fredette spent 10 days in training camp with his new team before returning home for his cousin’s wedding. Panathinaikos, which plays its home games in Athens, begins its Euroleague season on Sept. 28.
Girard, meanwhile, got in his own bit of travel in August with his Syracuse men’s basketball team, playing four exhibition games in Italy.
“Italy was great — I had a great time touring all the spots, my family is originally from there,” said Girard, who played solid minutes and averaged 10 points in the four games. “We have a pretty young team, no seniors, but we did really well for what we had and what we did.”
Girard, who scored a state-record 4,763 points in his high school career, led Glens Falls to a 29-1 record and the Class B state and Federation championships last March. He said that and his years of playing AAU travel ball with the Albany City Rocks prepared him well for the next level.
“When you go to the college level, it’s a lot faster, it’s a lot bigger, it’s a lot stronger, it’s a lot tougher,” Girard said. “A lot of people were expecting my transition to be a lot slower than what it was. I think that’s the biggest thing everybody has said, that I haven’t been too far behind everybody else and I was ready to go.”
He still misses football, though — Glens Falls was hosting a preseason scrimmage on the football field just outside the gym.
“I’ve been hanging with the football guys a lot at Syracuse,” said Girard, who quarterbacked the Indians to two state titles in his three years as the starter. “We actually live right next to the football guys. I go over and throw the ball around with them a little bit, try to stay as connected to the game as I can.”