Kiara Fisher, Marist women’s basketball’s sophomore transfer guard, is ready for a fresh start after being one of the 11 players that left Syracuse University this off-season.
“I was not happy there. There were a lot of things going on that should have not been going on. I just felt I needed to make an adjustment that would be best for me.”
On June 29, 2021, The Athletic published a story about the mass departure of players from the Syracuse women’s basketball team. The article shed light on why 11 players decided to transfer from Syracuse this off-season regarding allegations of inappropriate behavior between Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman and players.
The Athletic brought massive national attention to these allegations. Hillsman reportedly engaged in inappropriate acts, including kissing players on the forehead, inappropriate touching, and threatening and verbally abusing players, creating an unsafe and uncomfortable environment for the young women on the team.
Fisher is eager for this second chapter in her collegiate career and is excited for what is to come this season as the newest member of the Red Fox family.
“I feel good here, I am happy to be here, and I really love the players and coaches.”
A native of Elmira, New York, 90 minutes from Syracuse, Fisher has been playing basketball ever since she was little.
“I started playing basketball when I was four or five. I started playing because my mom had played basketball too, so from there it all kind of just connected for me.” Her mother played college basketball at SUNY Potsdam and her brother, Kyreese, currently plays basketball at Hilbert College.
Before attending Syracuse, Fisher attended Elmira High School where she was a varsity-student athlete since the eighth grade. She faced plenty of adversity throughout her young life, making the road to play collegiate basketball a difficult journey.
In March of 2017, before she was supposed to play in a state tournament game, Fisher received the tragic news of her father passing away at the age of 41 due to complications from diabetes.
Prior to her junior year, Fisher was sidelined for the whole season due to a shoulder injury that required surgery. She returned to the court in the spring of her junior year AAU season, but in her second game, Fisher suffered an ACL tear, which required another surgery in the summer leading up to her senior year.
Recovering from an ACL injury in just four months, a determined Fisher worked her way back to play her entire senior year season, in which she averaged 17 points, 8.2 assists, and 5.2 rebounds per game. The strength, perseverance, and composure of Fisher are evident through the adversity she has overcome as a human being.
Basketball and family have always been central to Fisher’s life. Through these challenges, her support system through her mom and brother were central to her road to recovery to get her to where she is today.
She was named captain of her high school team her sophomore year and was named First Team All-State, Elite 10 Player of the Year twice, and Section 4 Class AA Players of the Year three times in her high school career.
Having graduated and played high school basketball with current sophomore forward Zaria Demeber-Shazer, and AAU basketball with junior guard Trinasia Kennedy, Fisher explained how Marist got back on her mind after heading into the transfer portal.
“Marist had always tried to recruit me since I was little, just like they did with Trinasia and Zaria,” she said. “At that point, I had already made my decision to go to Syracuse, so we did not get a chance to talk much about it. I kept in touch with Marist and with Trinasia and Zaria. They told me a lot about Marist and how much they loved it, so when I got into the transfer portal, Marist contacted me. Trinasia and Zaira were a big part of my decision obviously because I played with them before this and knew how they felt about the school.”
However, with the pandemic raging on, Fisher never got a chance to visit the school, but that did not stop her from transferring to Poughkeepsie.
“I never got to truly come to Marist and visit, but over Zoom calls and FaceTime calls I just felt a part of the team already,” she said.
Fisher, while not an immediate starter during her time at Syracuse, showed signs of progression each game. She proved to be an impact player when given the opportunity and is expected to take on a big role for the Red Foxes this year.
With the departure of Allie Best, Marist has big shoes to fill on the perimeter, and Fisher looks to be a perfect replacement. In addition, her prior playing experience with Kennedy and Demeber-Shazer will be critical to the Red Foxes’ offensive production. The chemistry is already there for these three, as they have all played AAU together, which will be key for Marist this season.
Fisher and Demeber-Shazer already found some of this childhood chemistry in the Red Foxes season opener on Tuesday night, November 9 at Drexel. After the Dragons tied the game at 50, with 11 seconds remaining, Fisher drove down the court to find Demeber-Shazer for the winning layup, securing a 52-50 win for Marist. Fisher faced early foul trouble but showed up when the Red Foxes needed her, finishing the night with 11 points in 25 minutes.
From the makings of it, it seems Fisher’s transition thus far has been seamless.
“It has been really good so far. Everyone on the team has made me feel welcome, almost as if I’m not one of the new players here, which is great. I feel like I am in a new location, but everyone being so welcoming has allowed me to not feel any nerves or anything like that.”
While Fisher is a crafty guard and can shoot from the arc, she believes that her strength lies in her ability to create for other people and her speed. These skills will be beneficial to the Red Foxes, who pride themselves on team basketball.
Fisher’s face lit up when speaking about the upcoming season and her positive energy was contagious. She acknowledges the difficult schedule the Red Foxes face in the non-conference but believes it will help them in the long run.
“I am excited for the season and excited for the non-conference games. It is always better to play better competition.”
Kiara Fisher’s journey to Marist has not been easy. With the passing of her father, injury-related setbacks in high school, and a controversial and frustrating start at Syracuse, she has proven she can handle adversity.
Finding her way to Marist seems like the perfect opportunity for the reset Fisher has been looking for and the one she deserves.
Edited by Bridget Reilly and Jonathan Kinane
Photo from Annabel Banks