Maryland women’s basketball boasted a top-10 freshmen class entering this season. Despite the decommitment of top 50 player Amiyah Reynolds, the group still remain highly ranked with McDonald’s All-American Riley Nelson.

Hawa Doumbouya, who stands at 6-foot-7, entered the program as one of Brenda Frese’s more unique players. Summer Bostock joined Maryland last season as an early enrollee.

Despite being a top 100 player, Emily Fisher was easy to overlook among the talented class. The Illinois native was the first player of the 2023 class to commit, announcing her decision on Oct. 18, 2021, and has since earned a significant role in her debut season

“The people here and the family lifestyle, it’s just different,” Fisher said.

Despite attempting just 17 shots this season, Fisher has become a key contributor to the Terps’ 7-3 start. She’s averaging more than 24 minutes per game over Maryland’s last three contests.

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Frese calls on Fisher to contribute in other ways than scoring, a role highly ranked freshmen might oppose after playing as the go-to scorer at lower levels. But Fisher joined the Terps with a unique perspective.

On her club team, Fisher played alongside the Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year and two others who now play for Division I programs.

“We didn’t have any roles,” Fisher said. “It was just like, everybody does everything, otherwise you’re getting out of the game.”

Fisher averaged nearly 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists during her senior season at Libertyville High School, where she showed she can succeed as a scorer if needed.

But Frese still wants more out of the young player. Fisher took one shot despite playing 26 minutes in Maryland’s win over Northwestern on Sunday.

“We have enough glue players and we definitely need her to take that next step, even though she’s a freshman, to be able to help this team score points,” Frese said.

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Fisher’s continued rise in minutes comes after a tumultuous start to her first season. She averaged just five minutes per game in Maryland’s first five contests. Unfamiliarity with a new scheme and conditioning led to the lack of playing time.

The freshman said she felt physically unprepared for the transition to college when she arrived in College Park. That deficiency led to Fisher falling behind her teammates in a fight for time on the court.

But through training sessions with Basketball Performance Coach Kelsey Wolfe and 2-on-2 pickup games with Bostock, Nelson and Doumbouya, Fisher got into proper shape.

Now, Frese trusts the freshman in crunch time. Fisher played the entire fourth quarter against George Mason and played the second most minutes in the final frame against Northwestern. Her impact has been felt most on the glass — she grabbed seven rebounds against the Wildcats. Fisher also added three assists on Sunday.

Fisher’s demeanor never changed, even when her minutes were sparse to begin the season. The freshman wants to be coached hard, which led her to Maryland and Frese.

“She knew in AAU I was coached very hard and I could handle that,” Fisher said. “She can get on me for the smallest things, while other people will get annoyed.”

Frese compared Fisher’s early impact to Faith Masonius’, another former top recruit who found ways to contribute without scoring. It took Fisher just weeks to earn her coach’s trust and the most significant role among a crowded group of newcomers.