Luke Fischer has set a rising bar for himself. This is crucial. The Indiana-bound center has a huge college basketball opportunity if he can meet the challenge.
The Hoosiers, you see, have an inside need.
For now, Fischer's improvement measurements come in All-Star settings. Yes, this means little to no defense, but why worry about that now. Fischer isn't. He totaled 12 points, six rebounds and two blocks in last Friday's Derby Classic performance that left him pumped.
“It was a great experience,” he said. “This is my first all-star game of the year. I have high expectatons based on how well this went.”
Fischer, Wisconsin's Mr. Basketball, more than held his own against strong all-star competition that included two McDonald's All-Americans (Keith Frazier, heading to Southern Methodist, and Jarell Martin, going to LSU), plus four players heading to national champ Louisville.
“Playing in Wisconsin, you don't always get to play against some of the top guys in the country, so this was great,” Fischer said. “It was a chance to start things right off and get ready for college.”
Fischer is a 6-10, 215-pound prospect facing a never-ending series of Cody Zeller comparisons -- as in, he's a poor man's Zeller, which basically means by the time he's a junior and senior, he might be where Zeller was as a freshman.
Zeller, in case you've forgotten, is the IU All-American forward who is skipping his final two college seasons to enter the NBA draft, where he's projected to be a lottery pick.
Fischer isn't close to that status yet, but there is potential along with his steady improvement. A year ago he was ranked No. 140 in the Class of 2013. Now he's at No. 94 overall, and the No. 15 center, according to Rivals.com, a national Internet recruiting service.
While Wisconsin can't match the overall high school basketball talent the state of Indiana produces every year, it featured a strong senior class. Fischer's Mr. Basketball award came over such competition as Duane Wilson and Deonte Burton (both going to Marquette), Matt Thomas (heading to Iowa State), Nick Fuller (going to Nebraska) and Bronson Koenig (heading to Wisconsin).
As a senior Fischer averaged 20.5 points and 9.4 rebounds. As a junior it was 16.8 points and 7.6 rebounds. He led Germantown High School to 56 straight victories and two straight Wisconsin state titles.
The Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association, in a March release announcing the Mr. Basketball award, stated that, “Fischer stepped up his game during his senior season to become an absolute nightmare for opponents to defend. Fischer's ability to score with either hand in the lane, coupled with his smooth perimeter jump shot, make him an extremely difficult matchup for opponents. Toss in the facts he's 7-feet tall, runs the floor well and competes with high energy it becomes easy to see why he's scored 25 or more points 10 times this season."
Zeller's departure, along with forwards Christian Watford and Derek Elston, means Indiana's frontcourt positions are wide open. One incoming freshman likely to see significant playing time is 6-9 forward Noah Vonleh, who is rated No. 8 nationally. Jeremy Hollowell and Hanner Perea will provide veteran competition.
“My goal is to go to Bloomington this summer, bust my butt and work for playing time,” Fischer said. “Hopefully I'll get a good spot and play right away.”
The key to do that, he added, is simple.
“It's just hard work. Coach (Tom) Crean admires that. As much as I can do, I'm going to try to do and hopefully get that spot.”
Fischer teamed with fellow IU recruits Troy Williams, Collin Hartman, Devin Davis and Stanford Robinson in the Derby Classic at Louisville's Freedom Hall. It was the first chance they all had to play together.
“We tried to talk the coaches into putting all five of us in together at the same time,” Fischer said, “but it didn't work out.
“Playing with those guys were great. We bonded a lot. We got to know each other really well.”
Summer workouts at IU, Fischer added, can't come soon enough.
“All of us can't wait. We're so excited for it. Most of us have been committed (to IU) for a while. To think that it's so close, the excitement is really high.”