IOWA CITY, Iowa. (KCRG) - CJ Fredricks path to Iowa was in the stars long ago. His uncle, Joe, played for Fran McCaffery while McCaffery was an assistant coach at Notre Dame in the late 80's.
Iowa guard CJ Fredrick drives up court during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Minnesota, Monday, Dec. 9, 2019, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
"My uncle would just tell me stories about him and the way that he let my uncle play." Fredrick said.
"Just during the whole recruiting process it never felt weird and I already had a relationship with him so it was on a totally different level than everyone else."
Once arriving to Iowa City, Fredrick had to stay patient and redshirt his first season, working each and every day to improve his game.
"Just being able to get stronger, I still need to add some strength next year too." Fredrick said. "But the strength and the speed wise has helped me so much this year and just to kind of feel comfortable and learn our offense and how coach wanted to use me, so yeah its paid off."
"He practiced everyday, so you saw him everyday, he's working on his game,he's in the weight room, he's getting shots up he's going against the guys we had last year and performing at a very high level." McCaffery said.
After getting into the rotation early this season, Fredrick had a setback and the team considered shutting him down with a foot injury. Just two weeks later, Fredrick says he is playing nearly pain-free and averaging 11 points a game.
"I just feel a lot more comfortable, I think early on in the season, I was just trying to feel myself out a little bit. Now I think I really know my role and I'm just able to go out and just play the way I want to play." Fredrick said.
Its not easy for a first year player to be propelled into the starting lineup and contribute right away, just ask sophomore Joe Wieskamp.
"I think the mental aspect is the biggest part." Wieskamp said. "A lot of guys come in and have the physical attributes but when they get on the court they lose confidence in themselves because they are missing shots so I think he plays with such extreme confidence out there."