Updated: Jun 11, 2022
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.