Fred VanVleet Rockford
Fred VanVleet shoots around Thursday, June 16, 2022, at his private training facility in Winnebago. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)
By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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WINNEBAGO — Fred VanVleet emerged as one of the NBA’s best long-distance shooters this season, finishing in the top three in the league for 3-pointers made.

In fact, only future Hall-of-Famer Stephen Curry drilled more threes per game than VanVleet, who knocked down 3.7 per game to Curry’s 4.5.

But when it came time to put those shooting skills on display during the All-Star break for the fans in Cleveland, Rockford’s hometown hero turned in a 3-point contest performance that he could only laugh at, tweeting “bet on yourself” with a crying laughing emoji after he was eliminated in the first round.

He scored 16 in the opening round, including a first attempt that bricked off the side of the backboard.

Asked this week if he was looking forward to a chance to redeem himself, VanVleet gave a resounding “no.”

“No, I’m never doing that again,” VanVleet said Thursday during an interview at his training facility west of Rockford. “I didn’t want to do it. I was convinced, which is very hard to do if you ask anybody who knows me. I was persuaded to do it against my better judgement.”

Related: Fred VanVleet is an NBA champion and All-Star, but an off-the-court honor may be the most meaningful

VanVleet has turned in clutch performances in pressure situations in high school, college and the pros, including a breakout game that helped the Toronto Raptors clinch the NBA championship in 2019. In that game he hit multiple big shots, including three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and burying a 3 that put the Raptors up for good. In the most important game of his career up to that point, he turned in what was then his best playoff performance to date with 22 points.

“The biggest shots in Game 6, along with some other huge buckets over the last nine games, came from the smallest man on the floor,” NBA writer John Schuhmann said of VanVleet at the time.

Needless to say, VanVleet doesn’t let nerves affect his game. Except, it turns out, during 3-point contests.

“That was the most nervous I’ve ever been in my life,” VanVleet said. “I’ve never been nervous before like that. I can admit I was nervous as hell.”

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Fred VanVleet speaks to reporters Thursday, June 16, 2022, at his training facility in Winnebago. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)

VanVleet gave those responses as part of a short but wide-ranging interview Thursday as he prepares for his festival and summer camp, which is returning to Rockford after a two-year hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 3-point contest is much different from in-game shooting, requiring players to alter their normal catch-and-shoot or off-the-dribble motion in exchange for pulling a ball off a rack. VanVleet was also nursing a knee injury during the All-Star break in February.

Related: Fred VanVleet Fest returns to Rockford with three points for fun

The Auburn High School graduate said 3-point competitions won’t be in his future, instead he prefers to focus his preparations for shots he’ll take in games that count.

And with 242 3-pointers made this past season, he had a lot that counted.

This article is by Kevin Haas. Email him at or follow him on Twitter at @KevinMHaas or Instagram @thekevinhaas.

Know Before You Go | Fred VanVleet Fest

Bet On Yourself Bowling

Where: Cherry Bowl, 7171 CherryVale N. Blvd., Cherry Valley
When: 6-10 p.m. Thursday, June 23
About: The event features cosmic bowling, a silent auction, prizes, music and other activities. You can purchase a time slot from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Cost: $100 per time slot, includes bowling and shoe rental for up to five people per lane.

FVV Experience 

Where: Auburn High School, 5110 Auburn St., Rockford
When: 5-9 p.m. Friday, June 24
About: There will be on-court activities, games, giveaways, and 3-point and dunk contests. Children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult, and no outside balls will be allowed in the facility.
Cost: $5 per person. Kids registered for FVV Summer Camp are admitted free.

FVV Summer Camp

Where: Auburn High School, 5110 Auburn St., Rockford
When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, June 25-26. (K-3rd grade camp runs 10 a.m. to noon)
About: The weekend basketball camp is open to boys and girls in grades K-12 and serves as the finale to FVV Fest. Participants will receive a T-shirt, lunch and training from Fred VanVleet and other basketball trainers, coaches and other experts.
Cost: $100 per participant

You can register at any of the events at

Fred VanVleet shoots around Thursday, June 16, 2022, at his private training facility in Winnebago. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)
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