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March 21, 2013

Fortunes soar for freshman Forbes

By Patrick Elder

Bryn Forbes always knew he was good at basketball. Ever since he was 4 years old he could be found in theBryn Forbes gym almost every day, working on his handle, refining his jumper, pushing himself to be the best he could be. He also knew he would play in college.
His coach, trainer and mentor of 12 years, Carlton Valentine, knew it too. In fact, he knew it since Bryn was in sixth grade.

“When he was in sixth grade he scored 51 points in a game,” Valentine said. “The game after that he scored 43. I knew he had something special then.”

However, neither he nor Forbes knew just how quickly success would come — success in the form of the highest honor the Horizon League gives to freshmen.

Forbes was named the Horizon League Newcomer of the Year for his outstanding play throughout his freshman year at Cleveland State. His scoring average of 12.6 points per game led all freshmen and placed him 11th on the list of top scorers in the Horizon League. In addition, he finished seventh in the league in three-point percentage (.396), eighth in three-pointers made per game (2.0) and ninth in free throw percentage (.810).

Forbes is used to success. He led the Lansing Sexton Big Reds to back-to-back state championships during his high school days in Michigan. Those teams featured two other eventual Division I players, yet Forbes was the leading scorer.

“He showed up in every big game he played,” Valentine said. “He scored 20 points or more. He was a first-team All-Stater. He was a huge reason why we won. A lot of it was Bryn.”

It wasn’t always a surety, though, that Forbes would reach such lofty heights in college. His award-winning season began with him lacking in confidence, and as a result, lacking in playing time. Valentine, a former Division I player at Michigan State and a seven-year pro in Europe, knew that the transition from high school to college would be tough.
“Any time you make the transition from high school to college you can never predict what’s going to happen,” Valentine said. “I’m not a prognosticator. I’ve only had the experience of playing Division I basketball and I’ve coached a lot of guys that have played. There’s a lot of adjusting that has to go on.”

A Nov. 28 game against Ball State was the catalyst for a surge in confidence that propelled him to the Newcomer of the Year award. “I wasn’t playing much at that point of the season,” Forbes said. “I had zero in the first half, but then I came out and scored 18 in the second half. So that’s when I knew I was ready to play college basketball.”

Once Forbes found his way in to the starting lineup on Jan. 7 he never came close to losing his spot. Throughout league play he increased his scoring average to 14.9 points per game, good for seventh during league games. He also rose to second in free throw shooting (.905) and three-pointers made per game (2.0) while remaining in his seventh place spot in three-point percentage despite increasing his efficiency to .424.

“Winning Newcomer of the Year is a pretty exciting thing,” Forbes said. “I’m grateful. At the beginning of the season I wasn’t sure that I would get the accolades. I was more focused on learning the game and trying to be a good college player. Things just started working out for me. I started to understand everything better after spending a lot of time in the gym and watching film.

“It all ended up paying off.”

Hard work is something Valentine said defines Forbes. “He’s relentless,” Valentine said. “He’s a gym rat. He’s a workaholic. He does everything that you ask of him and more. He has a drive that you want all kids to have. He has an insatiable appetite for being better.”

Forbes’ hunger for bettering himself certainly showed up in the box score. He scored in double figures in 22 of his last 25 games, four of which were 20-plus-point affairs. His first 20-point game came against league runner-up Detroit in one of the Vikings’ most thrilling wins of the season. “The Detroit game was definitely the most exciting part of the season,” Forbes said. “No one really thought we could beat them and we came out and beat them pretty good.”

The win over Detroit was a high point in an unusually low season for the Vikings, though. The Vikings went 14-18 overall and 5-11 in league play. They were ousted in the first round of the Horizon League Tournament by UIC in a crushing 82-59 loss. The team’s struggles this year weighed heavily on Forbes and the team. “CSU is normally pretty good at basketball, so not meeting those expectations was hard for us as a team,” Forbes said. “Next year we want to win the Horizon League and make it to the NCAA Tournament. I’m just trying to be the best I can be by next season. I’m trying to get a lot stronger, know the game better, be a better defender, just become a better player.”

With his work ethic and skill-set, Bryn is well on his way to accomplishing that and more. “The more he learns what the coach wants out of him, the more he’s going to have success,” Valentine said. “You saw what he did this year. That’s a freshman that really doesn’t know very much, and he had that kind of success.

“The sky’s the limit for him.”