Updated: Jul 9, 2020
Credit: Chris Baelenge / SLAM
Before Andrew Wiggins was the top-rated player in his high school class and the eventual first overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft, he burst onto the scene via YouTube as “Best 13 Year Old In The Nation 6’6 Andrew Wiggins!” Even on standard-definition video footage, it was apparent that he was a special athlete, with explosive athleticism that gave him the ability to finish effortlessly above the rim at such a young age.
Fast-forward to the end of 2016, and yet another viral video from a high-flying Canadian began to circulate — this time, a 12-year-old who was dominating a MSHTV Camp and even throwing down some in-game dunks. Meet Elijah Fisher, now 15 years old, a prospect who has already caught the attention of high major schools and is seen as one of the top players in all of Canada, regardless of age. Fisher holds offers from Memphis, Mississippi, Oregon, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, and Western Kentucky, with many more schools showing serious interest.
While top Canadian basketball prospects often opt for more exposure by going the prep school route in the United States, there are some who have chosen to stay home in Canada that have experienced great success. It seems that Fisher plans to be one of those prospects, with the lofty goal of becoming the first player from a Canadian high school to be named a McDonald’s All-American.
Historically, players like Denham Brown (who infamously scored 111 points in a high school game in 2002), and Jamal Murray (who starred in multiple Nike Hoop Summit appearances), stayed in Canada through their senior years, yet neither was able to claim “Burger Boy” status. So far, Fisher seems to be doing whatever he can to make it impossible to deny that he is among the top players in the class of 2023, which would make passing up on him a difficult proposition come selection time.
In this interview, Fisher talks about his process and preparation, the training he has been doing under the unique circumstances of COVID-19, qualities he is looking for in a school, and much more. With 16 Canadians drafted since Andrew Wiggins was taken with the top pick in 2014 — including six drafted in 2019 — Elijah Fisher seems to be a name to track from the country that now has the second most players on NBA rosters.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2023 prospect Elijah Fisher, from Oshawa, Ontario:
Pro Insight: Talk a little bit about your family.
Elijah Fisher: I have four brothers, we’re a very big family, and we’re all into basketball and a lot of sports. We like going out and having fun as one big family. We’re a big welcoming family, we always welcome people when they come over to the house. My younger brothers both play basketball too. Then I have my baby brother Daniel that is just starting up in basketball — he’s four years old. My father used to play basketball back in the day and my mom played too.
PI: Do you play any other sports?
EF: I would say we’re a big basketball family. I’ve played other sports in the past, but none as seriously as basketball. I played a little bit of volleyball and soccer. Of the two I would say I was bigger into volleyball because I could spike better...I was able to move better around the court.
PI: What are some of your greatest strengths as a player?
EF: I would say my greatest strengths are getting my teammates involved, passing the ball around, scoring the ball on any part of the floor that I need to, and then my defense and energy that I bring onto the court.
PI: What about some things you still need to work on?
EF: I would say creating more shots for me because I’ll either take a set shot or more of a difficult shot, but I feel like I can create more space so it’s a better shot.
PI: What would you say is the most underrated aspect of your game?
EF: My passing, because I feel like I see all players on the court. I pass them the ball when they don’t even know where to go and I lead them to the spot they need to get to. I averaged around 10 assists per game this season, I feel like it’s an aspect people don’t really see.
PI: What’s your current training schedule like?
EF: With everything going on I’ve just been at home training, going to the park and running up stairs, just doing push-ups at home, and playing basketball in front of my house on the outdoor court.
PI: Which aspects of your game do you spend the majority of your time working on?
EF: Right now I feel like I’m spending most of my time working on my dribbling, my shooting and my passing. On a daily basis I’ll get up around 2,000 shots. I make sure all around [working on different shots] I get reps with pull-up mid-range, catch and shoot mid-range, free throws, and then off-the-dribble threes, catch-and-shoot threes, and creating my shot off of different moves.
PI: Out of all the opponents you’ve ever faced, who’s been the toughest?
EF: I would say my tougher matchups have been Terrence Clarke, Billy Preston and Cole Anthony. What was tough about Billy Preston is that I was at such a young age playing against him and he was a bigger opponent dominating the game. Terrence Clarke was tough in the way he just shot the ball and got to the basket.
PI: How do you feel your game compares to some of the top players your age in the U.S.?
EF: I feel like yeah there are elite level players, but I feel like I’m on another level. I feel like the way that I play that no one is at my level because I’m able to play at one level and I’ll see that my team needs me even more and then I’ll get to another level and step up my game even more and more.
PI: What goals do you want to accomplish before your high school career is over?
EF: Before I’m done with high school one thing I want to accomplish is just getting my education and getting better at school more and more so that if basketball doesn’t work out I’ll have a backup plan to fall back on. Then to just be a better person in general, like better to my community and more things. My basketball goals, at the end of high school I would love to be a McDonald’s All-American — that’s always been a big dream of mine since my father handed me a LeBron James McDonald’s All-American jersey.
PI: If you were to do something other than basketball for a living, what would you do?
EF: I want to own a big business or be a broadcaster, like how Shaquille O’Neal is on TV and things like that.
PI: What are some of your long term goals?
EF: Some of my long term goals are to be able to put my brothers and my family in a better situation...to be able to pay for my brothers to go to college if they don’t pursue basketball, then they all have an education and are able to do something. And then to just make my country and parents proud of me. In terms of basketball, I want to develop into a killer type of player where my team will look to me at the end of games in the NBA. Like how the Lakers look for LeBron at the end of the game or like Kobe Bryant when he played for the Lakers how they always looked for him at the end of the game or during the game when they needed him the most. I feel like right now in high school that’s how I am...my team when they need me the most they look to get the ball to me because they know I’m going to make the right decision or put the ball in the basket.
PI: Why do you wear number #22? Is there a story behind that?
EF: I wear #22 because when I first started playing basketball at a young age around third or fourth grade it was between numbers, 22, 2, 7, 4 and 5. I chose #22 and since then I just kept on rocking with it.
PI: Do you have a dream school?
EF: I don’t really have a dream school, but what would make it appealing to me is that the school work is a lot like basketball in the sense that it’s pleasing so that even if I don’t pursue basketball I’ll have a great education so that I can do something in life. From a basketball standpoint what makes a school appealing to me is the coaching staff, the way the coaches run the system, how it is, plays that they do, and players that I’ll be able to gel with, like how they are playing.
PI: At what point did you realize you might be able to play this game at the highest level?
EF: That really happened when I was around 11 or 12 years old when I met coach Ro [Russell] and then he just helped me out as a player, made me train with some of the older players to help me up my game. The day I really realized I could do something special with it was when I was playing in the future phenom game and I won MVP. After that all these different social media people were coming after me and asking for my picture, I was like “wow I can really do something with this because I’m playing against the top players in my class and I’m killing them.”
PI: How many followers do you have on social? How have you handled the increased attention?
EF: I have about 90 thousand Instagram followers. By me living just a regular life with just my parents and my brothers and my uncles, aunties and my friends...they just treat me like a regular person because God gave us all an ability to go do something special. I tune it out by not trying to keep a big head because I know that we’re all just humans and we all do the same thing...after basketball what am I really? I’m just another human being that’s breathing and walking.
PI: Do you watch more college or NBA basketball? What are you looking for when you watch?
EF: I feel like I watch a little bit more NBA than college because of a lot of different things. What I do look for when I’m watching college is the way the players move and how they play defense. Does the defense have high up-tempo energy, do they talk and uplift their players? And how it’s [college] is more team basketball instead of one-on-one basketball. And with the NBA I feel like I watch more like how they play as one even though all they’re looking for is themselves, like how they score the ball, but they compete as a team. And like just the high-energy defense and the way they come off ball screens, how they split it and how they’re always rubbing shoulders.
PI: Are there any players you (or other people) tend to compare your game to?
EF: A lot of people like to compare me to LeBron because of how he does everything on the court and how he moves the ball, scores, plays defense, and when his team needs him the most he goes and kills. Then other people compare me to a Paul George type of player, the way he can score the ball and how he’s good on defense...and then Kawhi Leonard, the way he takes pride on defense, he’ll pick up a player and lock him up. I feel like all those comparisons are accurate and I would also like to say my game is like Kevin Durant with the way he scores the ball.
PI: Do you have a favorite player?
EF: My favorite player is Kevin Durant because I love how he scores the ball and how he plays.
PI: Are the Raptors one of your favorite teams?
EF: Yeah I like the way their athletes play and they’re one of my favorite teams because they’re our hometown and they’re doing a lot for Canadian basketball.
PI: What type of system best fits your playing style?
EF: Any system really because I’m a coachable player. I’m the type of player that can play through anything if it’s more of an iso-type system where I have to go score the ball, I have to manufacture my own buckets or do whatever...or if it’s like a pass and cut type of system where it’s more so passing and looking for the best shot.
PI: Which position do you view yourself as?
EF: I view myself more like a combo guard because I’m able to score the ball and when my team needs me to...I also can produce passes and get my teammates involved and get assists.
PI: Please explain what Elijah Fisher brings to a team, regardless of the situation.
EF: On the court, Elijah is going to bring loud energy, always uplifting the teammates, telling them they can get the next one, don’t worry about it...I’m able to score the ball whenever you need me to, and then get assists and get everyone involved. Also do all the little things, like if the ball is on the floor I’ll dive for it, jump out of bounds to save it, and then put my body on the line to take a charge or something. Off the court, you get a funny character, but great manners, know how to act around people...I don’t act up or disrespectful.
PI: What is some of the advice that R.J. Barrett has shared with you?
EF: Yeah, I would say he’s a mentor figure with how he plays the game, how he shows what people out of Canada can really do and the mentality that he has. One of the things he shared with me is to just have fun because when you have fun you love it and you’ll do whatever it takes for that sport or that job that you have...because when you have fun you’re going to want to wake up every day and go do it; if you’re not having fun, then you’re like “why am I even doing it?”
PI: Do you feel much pressure about being the potential future face of Canada basketball?
EF: I don’t really feel like it’s pressure, I feel like it’s more so fun dealing with the different obstacles that come at me.
PI: What is something most people don’t know about you?
EF: Something most people don’t know about me is I’m a fun family person because when they see me they always see me in-game and I always have a serious face, in kill mode...but off the court when I’m with family or friends I’m a fun lovable guy that’s funny.
PI: What Netflix shows are you burning through these days?
EF: Some shows I’m burning through right now I’d say are All-American and then just old Disney movies like Lion King, Lion King 2, Cinderella...movies like that.
PI: What are the top four websites you visit?
EF: Top four things I visit when I’m online are probably YouTube and probably some shoe stores or fashion websites, things like that.
PI: What has been a defining moment or story in your life?
EF: A story that I learned from in my life was when I was younger and I walked on water. That story has always stuck with me because it really showed the love and passion that I have for basketball. I saw a ball at the end of a pool at a house in Florida...we were just walking in, checking out the house and I came and sprinted and I ran across the water and I picked up the ball then I looked down and just fell and my uncle came and saved me. From that experience, I learned that I’m determined that if I want to do something that I can go and do it no matter what obstacles are in front of me and then the love that I have for the sport of basketball.
PI: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
EF: To just have fun, because I feel like once I’m having fun with basketball I’m having my best game ever...nothing really bothers me...I can shake off anything that comes my way.
PI: What motivates you?
EF: My biggest motivation in life is my father, my mother, and my younger brothers because I just want to make them proud.
PI: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
EF: 10 years from now I see myself in the NBA playing for any team that would love to have me and just being a superstar.
PI: Name four words that best describe you.
EF: Hard-working. Incredible. Smart. God (“because I believe in God a lot”).
PI: At the end of the day, what do you want to be remembered for?
EF: I want to be remembered as a respectful person that made an impact in the sport that changed the community...someone that showed the younger people that giving back is great and good. Then on the court I want to be known as a killer — someone people fear to play against.
Watch the full interview with Elijah, here