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Report: BYU basketball legend Jimmer Fredette agrees to return to China’s Shanghai Sharks

One of the greatest players in Cougar hoops history is head back to the Orient.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at New York Knicks Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

BYU basketball legend Jimmer Fredette has reportedly agreed to return to the Chinese Basketball Association on a two-year contract worth roughly $1.8 million. International basketball reporter David Pick was the first to report on the deal.

This move shouldn’t be wholly unexpected for most Jimmer fans. While some were undoubtedly holding out hope that their favorite Cougar hoopster could make the jump back to the NBA and compete at the highest levels of the sport, a return to China — where Fredette dominated the country’s domestic league a season ago, earning MVP honors in the process — was always the most likely destination.

After falling out of favor with several NBA squads and spending a year with the Westchester Knicks of the NBA Development League, Fredette spent the last year single-handedly turning the moribund Shanghai Sharks into one of the top teams in the CBA — and capturing the imagination of the world’s most populous city in the process. His scoring explosions turned him into a cult sensation in China, where he was given the nickname “Jimo Dashen,” or “the Lonely Master.”

A return to his adoring fans is almost certainly the best move for Fredette here. Jimmer needs the ball in his hands in order to truly thrive and play the type of game that was so successful for him at BYU. He will likely never be afforded that opportunity in the NBA, with so many talented players, but the Sharks have already shown complete willingness to hand him the keys to their offense — and have reaped the rewards.

Fredette will return to China as the reigning MVP and a bona fide cultural phenomenon, poised to dominate the league for a second straight year and position his team for a deep playoff run—all while soaking up the plentiful endorsement dollars that will be there for the taking in the world’s fastest-growing market. Sure, it’s far away from his home in Colorado and it may not make sense to drag his wife and newborn daughter halfway around the world to an unfamiliar city, but the CBA has a short season (running only 38 games, from late October to early February) and he’s already done it once before.

To be honest, getting paid an NBA-level salary to run your own team and be adored by an entire country for a few months sounds like a pretty good gig to me. It may not be Jimmer’s dream situation, but as far as fallback options go, this one should have him sleeping soundly.