Derek Fisher at Derek Fisher Court inside the Jack Stephens Center.
Former UALR standout and president of the NBA players union Derek Fisher, of the Oklahoma City Thunder, pledged $700,000 to UALR in 2005 towards the construction of the Jack Stephens Center auxiliary gym, since named in his honor, and the establishment of the Fisher Fellows Life Skills program - a mentoring series for Trojan student-athletes.
As part of the Fisher Fellows Life Skills program, the UALR Department of Athletics welcomes 3-4 guest speakers per year to discuss various topics with the Trojan student-athletes. The program aims to help guide Trojan players through the various issues facing them as student-athletes, including mental health, nutrition, managing credit, goal setting, career choices, substance abuse and public service. The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee will assist in choosing the subject matter for each meeting. Additionally, the Fisher Fellows program sponsors a senior appreciation ceremony at the end of the year in which all graduating seniors are presented commemorative watches in thanks for their contributions to UALR athletics.
“I’m honored to be able to do this,” Fisher said at the time. “The university is such a big part of me being in this position. Hopefully, this is the start of a special program and a long, long, long relationship.”
The 1996 Sun Belt Player of the Year, Fisher was selected with the 24th overall pick of the 1996 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. After eight seasons with the Lakers (and three championships), Fisher joined the Golden State Warriors prior to the 2004-05 season. In 2005-06, Fisher averaged a career-high 13.3 points per game, while dishing out 4.3 assists per game and ranking 15th in the NBA in steals with 125.
Fisher spent the 2006-07 season with Utah, helping the Jazz advance all the way to the Western Conference Finals before falling to the eventual NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs. Fisher re-signed with the Lakers on July 20, 2007 after being given his release from the Jazz to relocate to a city which could provide the necessary medical care for his daughter, Tatum. Fisher’s experience and leadership proved instrumental in the Lakers winning the Western Conference championship and advancing to the NBA Finals. He started all 82 games for the Lakers in 2007-08, averaging 11.9 points per game while shooting 40.6 percent from three-point range.
The Fisher Fellows Life Skills program will be held on select Sundays throughout the academic year, and will be followed by a dinner for the Trojan student-athletes.
Tim Wierman - Eat to Compete
Randy Walker - Ultimate Money Skills Program (managing personal finance)
Mike Wingfield - UALR Dept. of Counseling and Career Planning (mental health)
Wes Hardin - Chenal Country Club