More than a couple of Leron Fisher’s close friends openly questioned his decision-making process one year ago. Why, some of them asked, would the former Lake Clifton standout pass up a Division II basketball scholarship in favor of junior college?
“I knew I could play Division I,” Fisher said Monday. “I knew if I went to junior college for one year and had the opportunity to play my best, I’d come away with a Division I scholarship.”
Fisher’s JUCO gamble paid off last weekend when Longwood offered him a full ride during his official visit to the Big South school in Farmville, Va. The former Lakers star accepted the Lancers’ offer before heading home.
“It felt good,” Fisher said of landing a long-awaited DI offer. “I thought I earned it because I worked so hard for it. I was just so proud of myself for getting the offer and committing there.”
Fisher starred for Lake Clifton as a senior in 2011 after playing a supporting role behind future NBA player Josh Selby during his junior year. The 5-foot-11, 165-pound point guard guided the Lakers to the Class 2A North semifinals. He later played with Cecil Kirk on the AAU circuit, but with minimal college interest, the fully qualified Fisher headed to South Kent (Conn.) Prep for a post-grad year.
“Coming out of high school, I didn’t have any DI looks. I was kind of disappointed,” Fisher said. “When I went to South Kent, I thought prep school would lead to a scholarship. But when I didn’t get a DI scholarship, I just kind of felt hurt. I was kind of sad. My mother was telling me to keep my head up. I was so focused on Division I that when I didn’t get it, I kind of didn’t want to play basketball anymore.”
Thanks to his play at South Kent, Fisher landed offers from Division III Lycoming College and Division II Southern New Hampshire. He considered playing at SNH, but decided to roll the dice with JUCO ball after Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, Calif., offered him a spot.
Deciding to “take a chance on Cali” proved to be an excellent decision for Fisher.
“On the court, we had a good season. We went 20-10,” he said. “I averaged 14 points and five assists. We had a great season. I also received interest from UC Santa Barbara, Pepperdine and Utah Valley State University. Off the court, I had a great group of friends and teammates. It was good to be out there. I think I’m ready to come back closer to home, though.”
At Longwood – which is located 200 miles southwest of Baltimore – Fisher will get that chance. The Lancers started pursuing Fisher just a few weeks ago, but he already has built a strong bond with coach Jayson Gee.
“Coach Gee said he wants me to be on the court and pressure the ball. Come in and try to do my best in the role and contribute to the team in any way possible,” Fisher said. “It’s a great campus. It’s not a very big school, but the students support the basketball team, come to all the games. It’s always packed. It’s a great atmosphere, great people. I felt like a part of the family as soon as I got there.
"I’ve just been getting great support and love. I announced my decision on Twitter, and I’m still getting congratulations and appreciation from family and friends. It just feels good. A weight has been lifted off my shoulders."