Class: Sophomore (Redshirt)
High School: Covington
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
GIA Nickname That Won't Catch On Anywhere: C.J. Pwns
Everyone who had C.J. Fredrick as a 30-minutes-a-game contributor last year, put your hands in the air.
Seeing none, let's talk about what just happened.
Iowa offered Fredrick way back in September 2016, on little more than a family referral. Fredrick's uncle/coach played for Fran McCaffery at Notre Dame, and tipped Fran to the lanky shooter with a couple of MAC offers. When Fredrick committed a year later, he had maybe-offers from Indiana, Xavier and Penn State and interest from Michigan, but his national profile was essentially non-existent. Then he shot 48 percent from three, won the Gatorade Player of the Year award in Kentucky for 2018, and took Covington to a state title.
He redshirted his first year, consistent with the thinking that he was a project. That thinking was gone by the second game of last season. Fredrick scored 16 in a loss to DePaul, went a perfect 5/5 from three against Cal Poly, and quickly became a consistent double-digit scorer. In a year where Luka Garza damn near won national player of the year, it was Fredrick, not Garza, who led the team in offensive efficiency. That effective field goal rate is nothing short of freakish for a perimeter player, the sort of rate you can only post by shooting 46 percent from three.
It wasn't a perfect season. Fredrick was already starting to show signs of running out of steam when he injured an ankle against Indiana. He missed three games, and struggled to regain his form after returning. In Iowa's last nine games, Fredrick scored in double digits once, with ten points against Penn State.
But given where we expected Fredrick to be, in the typical bench-gunner role, 2019-20 was a significant step up.
The biggest issue with Fredrick last year was health. We expect that a guy entering his third year in the program won't have quite so much trouble with the grind, but this compressed season could be especially tough if Fredrick remains injury-prone.
There's always that risk, and the risk that the three-point rate was an aberration and regresses to something closer to 40% this year, but we're picking nits at that point. The fact is that, barring calamity, Fredrick is a locked-in starter for the next three years, the kind of 30-minute-a-game assassin that Iowa hasn't really had since Adam Haluska, a consistent Chris Kingsbury for a generation that didn't know the O.G. He fits with Iowa's Garza-centric offense. He fits if Fran goes to slash-and-three with his point guards. For my money, he's the most exciting player on the roster.