The inmates at Mount McGregor Correctional Facility in Wilton, N.Y., have to vote on what television programs they watch each week, and each week they can agree on one thing — watching Jimmer Fredette and the BYU Cougars.
It might be tough to imagine, but the BYU senior has a personal connection with the crew of inmates at the medium-security prison. In fact, he used to be a frequent visitor to the Mount McGregor facility, Yahoo Sports reports.
Fredette and his older brother, T.J., used to play for a civilian team that would go up against McGregor's team of inmates, a program he started playing for in 2007. At first, Jimmer was the target of constant jeers and boos from the hardened crowd, but they soon warmed up to the talented youngster.
"Inmates are like regular fans," Mount McGregor recreational director John Montgomery told Yahoo. "They like great moves and great plays. At first they were rooting for their inmate friends, but as Jimmer started slowly popping 21-footers and 24-footers, soon the jeers turned to cheers."
Fredette has swarms of followers throughout the country, but as always, he'll get some extra support from the Mount McGregor fan base.
"They all ask about me, how I'm doing and how the season is going," Fredette said. "I guess we've made some relationships in there and people know about BYU basketball in there. We have those guys on our side, which is good."
Playing in front of the rowdy crowd in Wilton only helped Fredette in the long run, as he earned plenty of experience performing in front of a hostile audience rooting against him. As tournament play nears, Fredette will once again lean on that experience to help him on the national stage in front of die-hard opposing fans.
"Obviously there are a lot more people in big arenas in college, but what they say to you doesn't bother you because I heard pretty much everything in those prisons," Fredette said. "I think that helped me get better at blocking the crowd out and just focusing on the game."