That a single city could produce these basketball look-alikes could just be coincidence, but while Jimmer Fredette was scoring 2,404 points at Glens Falls from 2003 to 2007, he also was working as a counselor at a basketball camp in town that had been held on fall Saturdays for decades. Girard was a camper there, just as Fredette had been.
Fredette’s brother, T.J., remembered Girard being called upon at a basketball clinic to demonstrate a ball-handling drill. “He zipped right through it, spider dribble and all,” he said.
By the time Jimmer Fredette earned national player of the year honors at Brigham Young, in 2011, Girard, 11 years younger, was being called the next Jimmer. Girard played one season for Tony Hammel, who had coached Fredette at Glens Falls, before Girard’s uncle took over the program. Girard walks by Fredette’s framed jersey outside the gym nearly every day.
“There was always something just different about Joe,” Jimmer Fredette said in a phone interview from China, where he plays for the Shanghai Sharks and in November scored 75 points in a Chinese Basketball Association game. “He’s just broken every milestone by a long shot. He is a deadeye shooter, but I work with him on his middle game: floaters, runners, shots he can be creative with in college and beyond.”
Girard used to hear chants — “Jimmer’s better!” — when he missed shots, but those faded in recent seasons. Still, as they did with Fredette, college coaches are figuring out where Girard fits moving forward. One of 32 players invited to try out for the United States’ under-18 team in Colorado in June, he did not make the final cut. Playing at Peach Jam, the main event of Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League, in July, he was less of a scorer alongside center Isaiah Stewart, one of the nation’s top-rated recruits. Twice, Girard went scoreless against better competition.