Teen basketball phenom Fisher to decide college or G League in coming weeks

TORONTO — Marlo Davis watched history unfold a few weeks ago as “it wasn’t real.

TORONTO — Marlo Davis watched history unfold a few weeks ago as “it wasn’t real.”

A night that started quite naturally, the coach said, quickly turned into something magical as basket after basket fell for Elijah Fisher, an 18-year-old five-star rookie from Oshawa, Ont.

“While it’s going on, you watch and say, ‘Keep going, see how far you can go,'” Davis, the boys’ basketball coach at Crestwood Prep, said. “He was playing very well. He just got into a rhythm, and it was happening throughout the game.

“And then towards the end, when (his teammates) realized that tonight was going to be a special night for him, they really wanted to put the icing on the cake to try and help him establish himself as one of the best high school players nationwide, if not ever.”

The six-foot-seven guard was originally credited with 74 points in Creswood’s 119-102 win over Burlington’s New Horizon Academy – which is no slouch by a team – although according to Basketball Buzz, the scorers miss a free throw. His 75 points were an Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association (OSBA) record and the most breathtaking performance by a Canadian high schooler since Denham Brown scored 111 for West Hill Collegiate in Toronto in 2002.

“He’s a top goalscorer, but what separates him the most is just his competitive spirit and willingness to sacrifice himself and do whatever it takes to win, which really separates him from a lot of high school kids his age,” Davis mentioned.

On Sunday, Fisher earned MVP honors at the BioSteel All-Canadian game in Toronto, capping a 28-point performance with a stunning windmill dunk in front of fans and scouts, including Raptors president Masai Ujiri and general manager Deputy Dan Tolzman.

The BioSteel game, which features the nation’s top high schoolers, was back after COVID-19 scrapped the 2020 and 21 editions.

The global pandemic has been tough on Canadian high school athletes, who have faced much tighter restrictions than their American counterparts. At the start, Fisher, who could dunk easily at the age of 14 and was touted as the highest ranked player in the class. of 2023, feared that they would completely disappear from the radar.

“It was very stressful knowing everything was locked down, all of a sudden out of nowhere, and knowing that I couldn’t get into the gym,” Fisher said. “It was stressful knowing that the kids down south could play and the coaches were watching them and having fun, while I’m just stuck at home looking for some outside ground to practice on.”

His father Rohan, however, said that “true hoopers who dedicated themselves to their craft found a way to train”.

Fisher said he came to see the silver lining of the pandemic, it gave him more time to work on the flaws in his game. And although he was already passionate about the game, he came to the appreciate “much more”.

“Because I know what it’s like to have the sport you love taken away from you in the snap of a finger,” Fisher said.

Fisher first played for Crestwood Prep at age 12, alongside teammates half a decade older. He has been training off the court with Ish Joseph since 9th grade. With a focus on functional training, Joseph trains Fisher on everything from agility and speed to visualization and the ability to anticipate plays.

Joseph, who coaches young athletes in many sports through Pure Skills Athletics, compared Fisher to Canadian hockey star Connor McDavid for his ability to shift gears when others succumb to fatigue. He will put Fisher through a workout that includes switching from balance to jumping to basketball work.

“He gets to that stage where you think he’s tired and then he’ll go to another level,” Joseph said. “(Swimmer) Michael Phelps would be that type of athlete, when you think they’re done they can shift into another gear.

“A lot of athletes go from exercise to sport and their level goes down. His goes up. He goes into that flow state a lot. (The best athletes) will always do more than is necessary because they want to so badly. One of the words I use is it goes ‘Zen.’ His passion takes over. He has this burning desire, it’s crazy how much he loves the game.”

Rohan Fisher and his wife Thelia once feared the pressure of being a top basketball prospect would weigh heavily on Elijah, who has 84,000 Instagram followers. But they maintain a happy balance at home, Rohan said.

“Elijah lives, sleeps, dreams of basketball, everything is basketball for him,” Rohan said. “He has a goal, he has decided what he is going to do, we are here to support him and make sure he achieves his dreams, but also to educate him along the way.”

Elijah is the second oldest of five boys. He postponed a recent phone interview because he was accompanying his six-year-old brother to school. His other brothers are 12, 15 and 21 years old.

“I take great pride in showing my brothers that they can do whatever they want,” Fisher said.

His Crestwood teammate Romad Dean from the Bahamas also lived with the Fisher family – “I call him my sixth Fisher boy,” Rohan said – and recently committed to Fordham University.

Fisher’s education is the big decision facing him and his family. Although he may spend another year in high school, he is expected to reclassify through 2022. He has received NCAA scholarship offers from 72 schools, “at last count,” Rohan said. He made only one official college visit, to Texas Tech. He recently told Sports Illustrated that he has received significant interest from Oklahoma State, Maryland, Arizona State and Alabama.

Watching March Madness got him “very excited”, possibly looking forward to next year.

“Ever since I was a little kid watching it, I’ve dreamed of playing for one of those varsity teams, being on that big stage, hitting a game-winning jump shot…having fun and smiling,” he said. Fisher said.

He could also directly join the NBA G League development team, G League Ignite.

“It’s good that he has a lot of options, but it’s difficult because you don’t know which option is best, which one is right for you,” Rohan Fisher said. “Mom and I want Elijah to be comfortable with the decision, but we also want to help guide his decision.”

Fisher also made his national team debut last summer, helping Canada win the bronze medal at the FIBA ​​Under-19 World Cup.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on April 4, 2022.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press

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