Canada has slowly become a hub for NBA talent
Toronto saw the odd Todd MacCulloch or Jamaal Magloire slip through the cracks, but the city wasn’t turning out lottery prospects left and right for the last few decades. In the year 2021, however, Canada is the second-highest exporter of NBA talent, and the players coming into the league seem to be getting better every single year. Of the 20 Canadians in the NBA, 9 have double-digit scoring averages.
I like to describe Canada’s ascent into basketball prominence in three waves: the first being a trickle in that helped stars like Steve Nash and Rick Fox go pro. After that, the first explosion of talent saw the likes of Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph make it, and now the ongoing second explosion boom has produced stars like R.J. Barrett, Jamal Murray, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
With all the recent success, this year’s draft class couldn’t help but feel a little disappointing. Only one Northerner was drafted (Tyrell Terry), and while the undrafted Nate Darling and Karim Mane have logged NBA minutes, they are by no means established.
So who’s next on the horizon? Who is the next Canadian to come in take the league by storm? Who is our next North Star?
Meet Elijah Fisher
Fisher is a 6’7 positionless junior from Crestwood Prep High School. 247sports has him ranked as the third-best player in his class, trailing only social media sensation Mikey Williams and fellow prodigy D.J. Wagner. Whenever I asked what position he plays, everybody told me something different. He plays point-centre for Crestwood, mock drafts have him listed as a wing, but his head coach Ro Russell claims that Elijah is a combo-guard. No one can truly pin him down.
The main takeaway is that he’s a world-class athlete who can create off the dribble, jump out of the gym, and wants to be the greatest basketball player of all time. Scary stuff.
Considering the uncertainty of the future of Raptors basketball, as Kyle Lowry appears on his way out the door and Pascal Siakam failing to become a true No. 1 scoring option, the idea of Fisher wearing Raptors colours in a few years would be a hometown hero story to rival that of Derrick Rose in Chicago and LeBron James in Cleveland.
He certainly has the respect of his peers. I sat down with Coach Russell, a huge name in Canadian basketball, and I made the mistake of projecting Elijah as a top ten pick.
“Well, first of all, he’s top five,” Russell said. “I know Hoopshustlers has him at number one, I think Draft Room has him at one, so I don’t know who’s saying top ten.”
Elijah Fisher, dominant athlete
When a player is as physically gifted as Fisher is at just 16, it can be difficult to know as a scout how much of Fisher’s success is due to skill and how much is just him being bigger, stronger, and faster than everyone else. Anyone discarding Fisher on that precedent clearly has not watched a game of his.
He started playing Varsity high school basketball when he was in the seventh grade. Think about that for a minute. Not only was he taking on some of Canada’s best high-schoolers, but he was doing so at just 12 years old.
Elijah has also been playing in top-level American tournaments for years. Naturally, he has been dominating.
None of the hype Fisher has garnered as a point guard is fraudulent. The man can pass. He’s been progressively taking on more and more responsibility as his team’s primary ball handler. Fisher has that Giannis/James Worthy freight train ability on the fast break, dashing to the rim while lowering his shoulder to sustain contact. He also keeps his head on a swivel to make the right play, as evidenced by his silky-smooth passing. Elijah is not going to see a lot of single coverage by virtue of being one of the most talented players Canada has ever seen, but his handle and vision allow him to take advantage of double-teams and find the open man. While Fisher himself told me that he models his game after Kevin Durant, there are also a lot of similarities to Tracy McGrady in his game.
If he ends up on one of those two paths, he did alright for himself.
Elijah Fisher, scholar
The basketball speaks for itself. It’s incredible obviously, but in talking with Coach Russell and Fisher himself, the thing that really stood out to me was Elijah’s scholastic excellence.
Fisher is more than just an athlete. He’s a high B to A level student, which won’t tell you much about his play in the pick and roll but it does tell you how much he values a well-rounded life. Fisher mentioned his business classes as “my favourite” and “Something I’m definitely interested in,” showing that he already thinking about how to manage his money as he gets older and how to create wealth for himself during and after his basketball career.
Elijah Fisher, respected leader
For the first time in his life, Elijah has been one of the older guys on his team. Now that he’s entering the end of his high school career, there’s more pressure to take on a leadership role on and off the court.
Always being on the shy side growing up, Elijah has committed himself to be more vocal on the court. Encouraging teammates, calling out all his lottery-pick eyes can see, but always leading by example. This willingness to leave his comfort zone for the sake of his team bodes well for his future adaptability. Given his natural talents, it would’ve been easy for him to just coast on the back of his talents. Instead, he’s becoming a leader, a trait that both college programs and pro teams have to be interested in.
Elijah Fisher, relentless worker
Russell claims that there is no true off-button on Fisher’s motor.”He’s been in the gym two times a day,” Russell said. “Getting up for 5:00 am workouts”. Fisher’s father Rohan also confirmed to me that every day at 6:15, he and Fisher are in the gym refining his game.
“Lately I’ve been working on my jump shot,” Fisher said. ” Just trying to improve all aspects of my game but over the break, that especially.” Russell backs up Fisher’s claims, saying that he “put in a lot of work towards that.”
This is why so many basketball fans in both the US and Canada are excited about Fisher’s future in basketball. “He sacrificed a lot of his childhood,” Coach Russell said. “He wants to be the greatest basketball player of all time.” With the skills, work ethic, leadership ability, and dynamic personality to become a star, Fisher is on track to become a transformative talent whenever he takes his talents to the pros.