As he nears the end of his exceptional career at Eastern, senior guard is positioned to break the school’s career games played record
By Fedor Gaponenko, EWU Sports Information
Eastern Washington University men’s basketball player Jeffrey Forbes long ago established himself as a complete player who brings intensity and energy to both the offensive and defensive side. Now, as the end of the senior guard’s career draws near, he is not only earning respect for his consistency of playing well on the court, but also for his durability to always stay on it.
Currently, Forbes has played in 109 games to rank seventh in school history, and by the end of the season could break Marc Axton’s (2002-05) school record of 119 games played. He has also started 98 career games, and his 100th could occur at EWU’s next home game on Monday (Jan. 28) versus Portland State at 6:05 p.m. at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
If he doesn’t miss another game, Axton’s games played record will be tied on Feb. 28 when EWU hosts Northern Colorado and broken when the Eagles host North Dakota on Senior Day on the afternoon of March 2 against North Dakota.
Forbes gives opponents headaches by being a prolific 3-point shooter and an 88 percent free throw shooter.
Currently, he is third all-time at Eastern in 3-pointers made (164) and fourth in attempts (434), and is 20 makes and 65 attempts away from the school record. In his career at the free throw line, Forbes has made what would be a school record at 87.9 percent (152-of-173), but he is 45 attempts shy to meet the minimum of two free throw attempts per game.
He also has scored 954 points in his career -- just 46 from the coveted 1,000-point mark.
Not only is he a sharp shooter, but he also prides himself on being a high energy defender. His defensive prowess shows up in the steals column where he is currently eighth all-time in school history with 113 and is only four away from ranking sixth.
Forbes is glad to be able to accomplish these milestones, but right now he and the team are focused on finishing the season strong and getting into the Big Sky Conference Tournament. His team’s next game is Saturday (Jan. 26) at Southern Utah, followed by a three-game homestand.
A year ago, Forbes had a season-high 21 points -- and had a steal and assist on a key basket with 37 seconds to play -- in EWU’s 81-75 Big Sky Conference Championship quarterfinal win over Idaho State. He made 8-of-12 shots from the field, including 5-of-6 3-point attempts. The Bengals had a chance to tie or take the lead when Forbes snatched the ball from ISU and fed teammate Kevin Winford for a layin and a four-point advantage.
You are in position to break the school record for career games played. What would breaking that record mean to you?
“It would mean a lot and is a big accomplishment. It shows that I love playing the game.”
And what does it mean to start 100 career games? You are two away from that milestone.
“It’s hard to explain because it’s an accomplishment and goal that I’ve been trying to reach as a player. Luckily, I’ve been able to stay healthy and keep that starting spot.”
Is there a secret to how you keep yourself fit and avoid injuries?
“Eating healthy is a big thing -- making sure I eat all the right things. Mostly though, it’s going to the gym and getting my workouts in. Lifting weights really keeps you in shape and healthy.”
This year’s team has gone through a lot of adversity this season, but you have shown glimpses of being one of the top teams in the league. What is it going to take the rest of the season to get you back in the league tournament and turn you into a championship contender?
“We did have a lot of bumps and we had to get over them. To make us a great team, we just need to play hard, stick together and listen to the coaches. We just have to keep grinding -- there will be bumps but it’s about how you respond to them.”
Your career here at Eastern is winding down. What was one of your favorite moments?
“One of my favorite moments was when we played Idaho State (last season) to advance to the semifinals of the conference tournament. It was a big game for me, and it was a big game for our team to move on and show that we are contenders. It meant a lot to me because they kept going to me and trusting me to make the shots -- it felt good to knock them down.”
Apart from the action on the court, what will you miss most about Eastern and being on the team?
“There’s a lot I’m going to miss. I’ve been here since my freshman year and it’s gone by quickly. I’m going to miss playing with the team, the road trips and the practices. I’m going to miss just being around and having fun with the guys.”
As one of the four seniors, how have you been able to help the younger players adjust and improve this year?
“I just try to lead by example. I want to do everything the right way and show that what you do off the court affects what you do on the court. I try to be a good student as well, and show that education is important.”
You are probably the most consistent 3-point threat and free throw shooter on the team. Is it true that some people are inherently pure shooters or did you have to put in a lot of work to perfect your shot?
“It’s a lot of work -- you have to put in a lot of work in everything you do. Some people are gifted, but the really good shooters out-work the talented players. Since I’ve been playing basketball I was always coached on shooting techniques and repetition.”
How did you develop your really quick and somewhat unusual release to your shot?
“In high school the coaches said my form was off because I shot from the chest. They told me I need to get in the weight room and do push-ups. I mainly just worked on flicking my wrist more and getting it off quickly.”
You play just as hard, if not harder, on the defensive side and currently rank in the top 10 in all-time steals. Describe how you approach your defensive assignments and what your mentality is like when guarding opposing ball handlers.
“You can’t win games without defense. My mentality is if I stop my guy we have a better chance of winning. And if everyone stops their guy we have a better chance of winning. I try to set the tone on defense. I like being the hustle player with energy, and let everyone know that if we want to win we have to get it done on defense.”
Who are some of the basketball players that you look up to and try to emulate, and why?
“Michael Jordan has always been my favorite; the Bulls are still my team. I like Derrick Rose -- he plays hard on defense and offense. That’s one of the main things you look at. All of the great players are defensive stoppers. They are complete players and that’s why they are my all-time favorites.”
When you aren’t playing basketball or studying what are some of your free time hobbies?
“A lot of people don’t know, but my little brother goes to high school out here. I like to hang out with him and shoot hoops. I’m a big car fan -- I like old school cars. In my free time I like to work on my ‘86 Monte Carlo SS. I like what any other guy likes, movies, video games and just having fun.”
What do you hope to do after you graduate from EWU?
“Hopefully keep playing basketball. If not, then hopefully become a businessman and work in the sporting goods industry or something along those lines.”
Is there something you would like to say to all the Eagle fans reading this?
“I appreciate all the Eagle fans that come and support us. It means a lot for us as players to have fans that support us and love the game as much as we do. I’m grateful to see them and be able to talk to them after the game.”