PROVO — The BYU men’s basketball team is hoping to improve its perimeter play through recruiting in the offseason and recently secured the services of two intriguing guards.
Wake Forest transfer Chase Fischer decided to join BYU’s program at the start of last weekend with Frank Bartley, from Baton Rouge, La., deciding to sign with the program on Mother’s Day.
Both are 6-foot-3 combo guards, but have differing skill sets that could bolster the overall play of the team immediately.
“I’m a slasher and I really pride myself on being a shutdown defender,” Bartley said. “I’m a physical player and I’m versatile. I think I fit in very well with what BYU likes to do and it’s a big reason why I signed there.”
Bartley will enroll over the summer and join the team for the 2013-14 season and have all of his eligibility available.
A non-qualifier out of high school Bartley opted to forgo the junior college route and join the Future College Preparatory academy in Carson, Calif. Last season he led that team averaging 19 points, 8.5 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 3.3 steals per game.
“He’s a crazy athlete,” said his Future College Prep coach Les Bean. “He’s very powerful and explosive and he can do everything on the court. He’s also a very humble, down-to-earth kid from Louisiana. He’s very studious, quiet and humble. He doesn’t like to party, but likes to just focus on his academics and basketball.”
Fischer, meanwhile, hails from Wake Forest and will join the program this summer, although he won’t be able to play until the 2014-15 season to NCAA transfer restrictions. A native of Ripley, W.Va., Fischer finished his high school career as the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state and was a first-team Parade All-American.
Fischer enjoyed success as a true freshman for the Demon Deacons, averaging 6.3 points a game as a freshman, but saw his minutes and scoring drop his sophomore year.
“I love Wake Forest and it was a tough decision to transfer, but I believe I needed a better fit and I believe BYU is that place,” Fischer said. “I’m more of an up-tempo player and BYU definitely has a better system for me and my abilities on the court.”
Fischer is a 3-point specialist who hit 142 attempts behind the arc his senior year in high school.
“I can shoot the ball — that’s my biggest strength,” he said. “Coaches at BYU said they’re looking for guys who can hit consistently from 3-point range and I think I’m definitely the guy who can help out there. It will be tough sitting a year, but it will also be a great opportunity for me to work on my academics while working to improve my game on the court.”
Both players are not LDS, but came to know about BYU, like a lot of others, by watching Jimmer Fredette.
“I didn’t know hardly anything about BYU when coaches first contacted me, but I sure knew about Jimmer,” Bartley said. “I became a huge fan of his during the NCAA Tournament and I watch his highlights frequently. I have a link to my computer that goes automatically to just Jimmer highlights and that was long before BYU coaches even contacted me.”
“People may not know about BYU, as a school, but everyone knows about Jimmer,” Fischer added. “While watching him play I really became a fan of his and of the system they run there. I could tell right there that I’d fit in well with the system.”
Both players made official visits out to BYU recently, and although neither had particular religious or social ties to the program, they both came away feeling as if they were at home.
“I absolutely loved BYU and my time there,” said Bartley, who held offers from Auburn, Utah and Fordham, among others. “It’s definitely the perfect place for me with how they emphasize good academics and clean living. That’s where I want to go, so I signed with them right before I left as a Mother’s Day present to my mother who was there with me.”
While on his trip, Bartley enjoyed the company of coaches and players, but a unique encounter with President Cecil Samuelson may have been the highlight of the trip.
“Man, meeting the president of the university was something that was very special to me,” Bartley said. “He had a lot going on that day, but really took time out to talk to me and get to know me. He already knew a ton about me, so that was real impressive, but he’s just like everyone else at BYU — it’s just a very friendly place.”
Fischer held offers from Ohio, Wafford, Ball State and Valparaiso, among others after deciding to transfer, but felt BYU was his best option.
“I really fit in well with the players and I absolutely love the coaches,” Fischer said. “I really got to know Tyler Haws, Matt Carlino and some others and was able to work out with Haws and he’s obviously an amazing player. I already felt like part of the team while I was there, so it made my decision easy. I love BYU‘s standards and feel that will benefit me greatly throughout my final three years there.”
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