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Calling his transfer to BYU "a perfect fit," former Wake Forest shooting guard Chase Fischer on Friday committed to play basketball for Dave Rose and the BYU Cougars.
A 2011 first-team Parade All-American out of Ripley (W. Va) HS, Fischer played for the Demon Deacons as a freshman and sophomore, appearing in 62 games with six starts. The 6'3", 195 lb. three-point specialist will sit out BYU's 2013-14 season under transfer rules, with two years of playing eligibility remaining, beginning with the 2014-15 campaign
In a conversation from his West Virginia home on Friday night, Fischer called BYU "kind of a wild card for me (in the transfer process), because it was...really far away, but there was always a lot of interest on my side, and thankfully, theirs, too. It was really exciting when they called."
BYU assistant coach Mark Pope was a Wake Forest assistant when he helped recruit Fischer to Winston-Salem, and it was Pope who made contact with Fischer to gauge his interest in playing for the Cougars.
"Coach Pope called me after the Final Four," said Fischer. "It was kind of out of the blue for me. I hadn't talked to Coach Pope in a while and it was a Utah (phone) number, and I was kind of shocked when he called me. And it just kind of went from there."
One of the top scorers in West Virginia high school history, Fischer led that state in scoring as a junior (32 points per game) and as a senior (37 ppg), finishing his prep career with 2,210 points. Following his junior season, Fischer de-committed from Marshall, after a change in that school's coaching staff. At the time, he chose Wake Forest over Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Ohio and VCU.
As a college freshman, Fischer averaged 6.3 points and 26.1 mpg, while shooting 32% from the arc. Voted as a team captain heading into his sophomore season, Fischer shot 42% from the three-point line during the 2012-13 campaign at Wake Forest, while averaging 4.5 ppg in almost 12 fewer minutes per game.
"We tried to play a little different style during that second year," Fischer said, "and (the coach) was trying to go with a little more athletic lineup. That was a bit of the reason for the decrease (in playing time), which was a little tough for me at the time, but I learned a lot from that.
"I was really ready for a lot of minutes in my second year--I got a lot bigger and stronger and had worked really hard--and it was unfortunate it didn't work out, but I had a good two years."
Fischer said serving as a team captain while facing a diminished on-floor role was difficult.
"It's definitely tough," said Fischer on Friday, "when you're a leader on the team and you have a good relationship with all the guys, and they respect you--and I wanted to play.
"I felt that I was definitely ready to have a really good sophomore year, and that didn't happen for me. I learned a lot from it and about myself during that time, though--learned a lot from some adversity. I'm just taking positives from that situation.
"It was tough, as a sophomore captain, recognizing that I was in that position...but I think I earned a lot of respect from people, during that time. It helped me mature a lot."
Fischer says he decided after the season to seek a new playing opportunity.
"It was a tough choice," Fischer said, "because I loved Wake Forest and I loved my teammates and I had a lot of good friends there, but I felt like I could play a much bigger role (somewhere else)."
In a school press release issued after Fischer decided to leave Wake Forest, head coach Jeff Bzdelik said "Chase has been a great representative of our program over the past two seasons. We appreciate all of his hard work and wish him the best in the future."
"I was excited, really excited," said Fischer of BYU's interest, "because BYU is a great program, and a program that I've always enjoyed watching and always wanted to play in. I was super-excited when they called."
Asked how he sees his up-tempo, perimeter-oriented way of play meshing in Provo, Fischer said "the styles match up perfectly. They have a really fast pace, and I think I got a great understanding of that when I came out to BYU. I think I'll really, really thrive in Coach Rose's system."
It wasn't too long ago that a certain prolific high school scorer came all the way from the east coast to Provo, and found that his high-scoring ways fit quite well into Rose's offensive-minded, quick-tempo attack. Fischer says New York's Jimmer Fredette was a bit of an inspiration.
"I love Jimmer," said Fischer. "I followed him at the end of his junior year and into his senior year, and I was a Jimmer fanatic. He was one of my favorite players."
While he won't get a chance to follow in Fredette's footsteps for another year and a half, Fischer will ideally address BYU's need for more consistent three-point shooting. The Cougars' three-point percentage has dropped in three consecutive seasons—-the lowest-percentage three-point seasons of the Rose era. In 2011-12, BYU shot a shade over 34% from the arc; last season, that number was just under 34%.
In two seasons at Wake Forest, Fischer shot 36% from distance, but his 42% accuracy rate in 2012-13 would have led BYU. Over his two seasons in Winston-Salem, Fischer averaged 2.4 3pfg/40 mp—a stat that would have led the Cougars during that span of time. Additionally, his 3pfga/fga rate of 69% would also have paced BYU over the last two seasons.
The wait to play will be a long one, but Fischer says "I'm looking forward to the opportunity to sit out and embrace that situation."
"I'm a worker," Fischer said, "and I really enjoy just training and working on my game. I'm going to take every workout I do, every lift, every run--I'm going to take them like a game, and really advance my game to get ready for 2014-15."
I asked Fischer why he ultimately chose BYU over schools like Valaparaiso, Ball State, Ohio and Florida Gulf Coast, and he said "the thing that really impressed me first of all was Coach Rose; he's awesome."
"He's really the type of coach that I want to play for," said Fischer on Friday. "He makes you feel very comfortable, and that's how he coaches and wants you to play, is with a lot of freedom. Coach Rose and his staff are unbelievable.
"Second of all, just the basketball success they've had, playing in that kind of atmosphere (at the Marriott Center). Seeing the campus, and how beautiful it is, and how beautiful Provo is, kind of bridged that gap of distance.
"Getting comfortable with the campus, and the coaches and players, it was just everything coming together perfectly and just everything I was looking for from basketball style of play, to the players, the school and the area--it all just came together for me.
"Even though I'm from West Virginia and the east coast and my family's out here, distance really has no effect on me now; it was just a perfect fit."
Fischer's visit to BYU was his second recruiting foray, after an official trip to Valpo. He cancelled all other pending visits after deciding to commit to the Cougars.
"I was a little nervous about the distance thing," said Fischer, "so it was just really good to get out there. Right when I got (to Provo), I felt really refreshed."
Fischer said Rose referenced Jimmer's mom Kay when he said of the two-time zone move that "'the east coast key is convincing the mom,' and my mom was on board, too, so there was no problem there."
Fischer was accompanied by his parents on his trip to BYU earlier this week, and he says "they loved it. My dad really loved BYU from the beginning, when BYU first started contacting me, he was just super excited, because he knew it was a perfect fit for my game; and my mom really loved it, too."
"The coaching staff and everyone made her feel very comfortable with everything," Fischer said. "It was really good for them to come out there with me--they were very, very reassuring to me when I really wanted to commit to BYU right after my visit."
Asked how frequently his folks might make it to Provo to watch him play, Fisher predicted that "they're gonna make it to more games than I'll think they will. My mom and dad are travelers; they'll find a way to get out to Provo as many times as they can."
Fischer says his trip to Provo included a workout and shooting with Tyler Haws, in addition to hanging out with Matt Carlino, Anson Winder and other future teammates.
"They were all really, really good guys--guys who I'd definitely like to play with and be on a team with. They made me feel really comfortable as well."
While not a member of the LDS faith, Fischer said "that was never a concern for me. I'm pretty strong in my faith and I respect other people who are very strong in their faith."
"I take it more as an experience," said Fischer. "You're going to be around people that have different religious beliefs and that's kind of exciting, to learn about that faith and make relationships with new people.
"It's a change, but it's not a bad change at all. I welcome it, and my mom and dad felt very comfortable with it. (Teammates) made me feel really comfortable about it as well, so it was never a problem for me at all. I think it's good to know the deal and know the atmosphere and the culture. I was and still am very comfortable with that."
About making the move from Atlantic Coast Conference to West Coast Conference, Fischer said "there is some difference in conferences, but to be honest, I don't look at that in any way; I just look at the school that I'm at, and the fit, and then you play who you play."
"It was awesome playing in the ACC," said Fischer. "It was a great experience playing against a lot of those teams, but I'm really looking forward to the new conference, the new opponents, new teams.
"The west coast will be a totally different experience for me; the travel and the venues you play at--I'm really looking forward to this, and it's a great conference. I'm looking forward to successful seasons and hopefully winning some (WCC) championships."
Fischer expects to be in Provo by mid-to-late June to get ready for summer workouts, before a trip back home in August preceding the fall semester and his redshirt season as a Cougar.
Fischer's commitment leaves two open scholarships for the 2013-14 season. Rose and his staff are hopeful of at least one more commitment before the expiration of the spring National Letter of Intent signing period next Wednesday.
Players can still commit for the coming season after that date, but by signing within the designated period, a prospective student-athlete agrees to attend the designated institution for one academic year, while in exchange, the institution agrees to provide athletics financial aid to the student-athlete.
Once an NLI is signed, other institutions are required to cease recruitment of the prospective student-athlete.