Nova Notebook: Start of Practice Places Fisher Closer to His Dream
Oct. 12, 2007
The Nova Notebook, by Villanova director of media relations Mike Sheridan, appears weekly beginning in September through February with monthly updates in the off-season. This week we visit with freshman guard Corey Fisher.
It isn't the regular season or BIG EAST Conference opener. But as Corey Fisher looked ahead to the weekend of Oct. 12-14, he couldn't help but think what it represents.
"I'm real excited," said the product of St. Patrick's High School in New Jersey on the eve of his first official practice. "Ever since I was a little kid, I dreamed about what it would be like to play college basketball at this level. You watch games on TV and wonder what it's like to hear Dick Vitale call now your name. And, now, my freshman year is really getting started."
Fisher is no stranger to accolades. Over the past two seasons his name was mentioned often in discussion of the top rising guards in the United States. His senior season at St. Pat's was sensational, capped by a New Jersey State championship and a breathtaking mano-a-mano duel with consensus prep player of the year O.J. Mayo before the eyes of a national television audience in February. Fisher scored 37 points that night to lead St. Pat's to a pulsating triumph.
But Fisher is the first to concede that he owes a debt to those who helped him reach this point.
"I'd like to thank (coach) Kevin Boyle and all of the people at St. Patrick's," says Fisher. "When I came there from the (New York) City, it was real different. The academics were tough and I wasn't used to the kind of responsibility that put on you. The coaches were on me about it as soon as I got there and I didn't always react well to it.
"But they stayed with me and I started to appreciate how important it is."
When it became clear early in his career at St. Patrick's that he would have a bright basketball future beyond high school, interest was high among colleges. By the time he reached the midpoint of his junior season, in 2005-06, Fisher talked with his parents and coaches about settling on a college.
"I was kind of getting worn out by the calls," he says. "I also knew that I needed to get that decision done so I could concentrate on my academics - they needed work."
Villanova had always been a consideration. Fisher's father, Corey Wilson, had known then Wildcat assistant Ed Pinckney from their days playing against one another in New York City. Pinckney, head coach Jay Wright and the rest of the coaching staff bonded quickly with the 6-1 guard. Fisher made up his mind in January 2006, declaring his intention to sign a letter of intent with the `Cats in the fall of '06.
"It was Villanova for a lot of reasons," he says. "The No. 1 thing was academics. This is such a good academic school and that's something that was important to me and my Mom (Kiesha Fisher). The second thing was that it is a family atmosphere here. I saw it with all the coaches, the players, the staff, everyone. And the third thing was the style of play. It really suits my game.
"People talked about the four guard offense here. But like Coach (Wright) says, that was possible because of the way everyone on that team rebounded and defended. That's the kind of team I want to be a part of."
With his decision announced, Fisher set about completing his high school career in style. By the time his senior year was complete last spring, his list of accomplishments was long. Chief among them was his selection as the Newark Star-Ledger's Player of the Year, the third Wildcat in recent years to hold that distinction (Randy Foye and Mike Nardi were the others).
Fisher arrived on campus with fellow incoming frosh Malcolm Grant and Corey Stokes in May for summer classes. And while fans know that Stokes and Fisher played at different ends of one of the most heated prep rivalries in eastern basketball - Stokes attended St. Benedict's Prep - the relationship between the two point guards dates back further.
"I have actually known Malcolm longer than I have Corey," he says. "I played against Malcolm when we were younger in New York. When I went to St. Pat's, I got to know Corey (St. Benedict's Prep). We get along real well but the biggest thing now is that we are all a part of this family here."
Once Fisher was on campus he began to hear comparisons to another Wildcat of recent vintage, Kyle Lowry. The two are acquainted and share a facial resemblance that can give even those who have been in the program for years pause. Those who aren't as close to it are even more apt to misidentify one or the other. During "Summer Jam" festivities, a media member requested a Lowry interview After twice being informed that Lowry was not in attendance, the media member assured a school official that he had seen Lowry and even pulled the official aside to point "Lowry" out to him.
He gestured toward Fisher. That isn't likely to be the last case of mistaken identity. Fisher doesn't mind.
"I have heard a lot of the `next Kyle Lowry' talk since I got here," he states. "I understand why - our games are kind of similar. I'm real close to Kyle and he's just told me to play hard for my coaches and teammates and everything will fall into place."
Fisher and friends got a taste of college basketball during the Labor Day tour of Canada. The extra practice and time with his teammates only whetted his appetite for what lies ahead.
"I picked up a lot," he says, "not just from what the coaches were teaching us, but about what my teammates want to do when they are out there on the floor."
That is, of course, essential information for a point guard. Fisher expects he will face some challenges in his transition to the college game but it's something every newcomer must do.
"I think my biggest adjustment will be playing every possession hard," Fisher states. "I have gotten better with that but the BIG EAST is so tough you have to do that in every situation, whether it's practices or games."
Class is now in session.