Uncle Joe Remains Active in CJ Fredrick’s Corner
IOWA CITY, Iowa – It was a shot that might be seen during a game of H-O-R-S-E in the driveway, not in a Big Ten contest in front of a sellout crowd at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
CJ Fredrick’s one-handed three-pointer, after he dodged 6-8 Nebraska defender Matej Kavas, beat the halftime buzzer. It gave Iowa an 11-point halftime lead and momentum that resulted in a 96-72 victory Saturday.
After the shot went in, there was tinge of disgust on Fredrick’s face as he ran off the court.
“That’s exactly what it was,” said the Hawkeyes’ 6-foot-3 guard. “I make that one, but I missed the open ones. So I was just like, ‘Why?’”
Fredrick had missed seven of eight shots, including four of five attempts from three, before his one-handed swish.
“I’ve just got to get back in the gym and work on it,” Fredrick said.
The gym is where the redshirt freshman from Cincinnati developed a shot that is so pure it looks like every attempt is going in.
The gym is where his uncle, Joe, helped him down the path to Division I basketball.
“That’s my guy,” CJ said. “I love him a lot. I’ve got to give him a lot of credit for the reason I’m here.
And a lot of my abilities are because of him. We put a lot of work in. That relationship continues.”
Joe Fredrick was a standout guard at Notre Dame for Coach Digger Phelps. Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery was an Irish assistant at the time, when Joe played on teams that made the NCAA Tournament four straight seasons starting in 1987.
The first two-time captain in Notre Dame basketball history, Joe scored 1,058 career points and still holds the school’s career three-point percentage record of .490.
Continue reading below
Related In HawkeyeNation Forums
“My uncle was a great player,” CJ said. “He just had that ability to score, and his confidence was extremely high. He played with some swag, and with a motor. That’s who I looked up to when I was younger.”
CJ mirrors a lot of Joe’s attributes. He’s shooting .472 from three this season, and .412 against Big Ten competition. He plays with swag, and his motor runs. He doesn’t back down from anyone, displaying a toughness that comes from hours in the gym polishing his game.
“(Joe) is who I looked up to when I was younger,” CJ said. “I wasn’t that great, but I knew I wanted to be that good. I had to separate myself. So that kind of energy and swag I play with, it’s from him.”
Joe has seen CJ play twice in person – Saturday against Nebraska and Dec. 21, when C.] matched his career high with 21 points in a 77-70 victory over Cincinnati at the United Center in Chicago. But Joe doesn’t have to be there in person to keep CJ grounded and moving forward.
Continue reading below
“We put in a lot of work together, and the relationship continues,” CJ said. “He texts me all the time, and we talk (on the phone) a lot.”
After Iowa’s humbling 36-point loss at Purdue on Feb. 5, Fredrick checked his text messages.
“One of the first texts I saw was from Uncle Joe,” CJ said. “The first thing he said was, ‘I love you,’ which was nice. Then he said, ‘A one-point loss or a 40-point loss, it doesn’t matter. Get back, get rested, get healthy and get ready to go.’ He’s just a huge influence on me.”
Joe Fredrick is the reason his nephew is playing for McCaffery at Iowa.
“I was really open during the recruiting process,” CJ said. “But at family parties, or any time we were together in the gym, he would always talk about Fran and Notre Dame, and stories with him and Digger and Fran. He wanted me to play for Fran, and he wanted me to come here. It’s worked out really well. I’m grateful for his insights.”
Continue reading below
CJ said that all the stories that his uncle told him about McCaffery were true.
“Oh, absolutely,” CJ said. “It’s almost like a dream come true, honestly, playing for him. I’ve been hearing stories about my uncle playing for him since I was in 8th grade. How much fun it was for (Joe). How much he loved him. Now I say the same thing all the time. I love Fran. I would do anything for him as a competitor. He’s a coach you want to play for.”
McCaffery is well-schooled in the Fredrick-Fredrick bond. He said that Joe continues to play a significant role in CJ’s life and his basketball career.
“It’s not like, ‘OK, you’ve got a Big Ten scholarship here, you’ve arrived,’” McCaffery said. “No. You’ve got to work harder than that. And his having Joe helping maintain that focus is good.”
CJ actually committed to Iowa without an available scholarship. That’s how much he believed in what Joe was telling him about McCaffery, leaving offers from Xavier, Penn State and Nebraska on the table. That all changed when Christian Williams announced his decision to transfer from Iowa a week before signing date.
“This is home for me,” CJ said. “I love it here so much. The people here, the fans, my teammates, coach McCaffery and his whole staff. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made. This is just home for me now.”