Alisha Fanshier recently verbally committed to play basketball at NCAA Division-II Fort Hays State University.
But the Barton Community College and St. John High School product had a change of heart after BCC assistant coach Ben Lister was hired last month as the head coach at Baker University in Baldwin City.
Last week, the two-time Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference all-conference selection opted to sign with Baker, a four-year NAIA school which competes in the Heart of America Conference.
“Coach Lister recruited me when I was in high school,” said Fanshier, who won a Class 1A state championship her senior year at St. John. “I’ve always felt comfortable with (Lister) and I’m excited to be going to Baker to play for him.”
Fanshier, a two-year starter for the Cougars, was a second-team selection this past season for BCC, which finished with a 21-11 record and advanced to the NJCAA Region VI tournament at Koch Arena in Wichita. She averaged 12.3 points — second on the team to teammate Christina Caddy — while shooting a team-leading 78 percent from the free-throw line (85 for 109).
“He recruited her to Barton,” Barton head coach Keith Ferguson said of Lister, “so I’m sure the familiarity … she’s comfortable with Ben. She knows what she’s going to do and what she can’t do.
“Going to Baker is going for be very easy for her because it will be comfortable. She will have a good time working with him, and she won’t have to learn how to get used to a new coach and things like that.”
After serving a suspension during the first semester, Fanshier helped spearhead a midseason surge for the Cougars, a one-month stretch where they won 11 of 12 games —including eight straight — from Jan. 12 until Feb. 12.
“She was great for us in the second semester,” Ferguson said. “She really did a lot for us when we won 10 out of 12 conference games (that stretch also included a non-league win over Barclay College).
“She was a huge part of it, and it wasn’t always her scoring. There were a lot of games where she led us in assists, led us in steals and guarded really well.”
Fanshier also led the Cougars in assists with 96 as she was regarded as perhaps the team’s most unselfish player.
“She had some rough nights shooting the ball, but that was because everybody was keying on her so much,” said Ferguson of Fanshier, who hit 39.6 percent of her field goals (93 for 235). “She was our best player off the dribble and our wing scorer.”
Fanshier also had a team-best 37 3-pointers, hitting 31.1 percent from downtown (37 for 119). Yet, she also created for others off her dribble penetration.
“It really opened things up for Dionne (Harris), Christina, Netanya (Jackson) and Shea (Shoemaker), when Alisha was taking it to the rim and being aggressive,” Ferguson said. “I think that she will do really, really well in (the Heart of America Conference) and she should be the best guard in the conference, hands down. I think she’ll have a good career.”
During a late-season road game at Colby on Feb. 23, Fanshier lit up the scoreboard for a career-high 27 points during a 65-49 victory. She finished 7-for-9 on 3-pointers, hitting all of her trifectas in the second half.
Fanshier came one 3 shy of tying the BCC record for most 3-pointers in a game (8), set by foreign imports Kristine Silaraja and Ipek Turkylimaz during the 2008 campaign.
Fanshier didn’t confess to being in a shooting trance, though.
“I didn’t think I played that well,” she said, matter-of-factly. “I just happened to be making my shots, but overall, I didn’t feel like I was playing that well.”
Fanshier said that Lister will be running the same guard-friendly offense that Ferguson employs at Barton. That’s something that excites both Fanshier and Lister.
Lister, who accepted the Baker post in late May, said he’s also excited about signing a player the caliber of Fanshier.
“It was one of those things where we feel really fortunate to get her at the last minute,” Lister said. “Obviously, knowing Alisha from her high school days, I’ve watched her develop over the last couple years and she’s going to be a tremendous asset for us at Baker.
“I can’t say enough about what she did at Barton and obviously, the impact she had there was very, very good. Not only is she a great shooter, she could also bring versatility by getting to the rim in Coach Ferguson’s offense.”