Oklahoma State basketball: Phil Forte 'lives in the gym'
Cowboy freshman guard has two managers on call to rebound for his shooting sessions. And it's paying off. Forte averages 11.6 points per game off the bench.
STILLWATER — Bradley Lewis was worn down, and all the Oklahoma State basketball manager had really done was watch practice.
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Oklahoma State vs. Iowa State
* When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
* Where: Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater
* TV: KOCB-34 (Cox 11/HD 711; Dish 34; DirecTV 34; U-Verse 34/HD1034)
* Radio: KXXY-FM 96.1
Three things to know
* The Cyclones take a lot of 3s — leading the Big 12 with 173, or 9.1 per game — and make 36 percent.
* OSU has won 57 of its last 59 games against unranked teams inside Gallagher-Iba Arena
* Iowa State doesn't start a player over 6-7, yet leads the Big 12 in rebounding at 40.8 per game.
Then Lewis received his introduction to the Phil Forte regimen.
“It was at the beginning of the year, and we had just had one of those two-a-days, except it wasn't two practices, but one, long 4-hour practice,” said Lewis, a freshman from Grapevine, Texas. “Phil wanted to shoot after that. I was just standing around at practice and I was tired.
“It was probably 9:30 or 10 (p.m.), already. And I was like, ‘What?' That was one of my first times to rebound for him. He's always shooting.”
And, seriously, Forte might be firing up shots this very moment, readying for Wednesday's visit from Iowa State, a team recognized for its quick-trigger gunners.
He may only be in his seventh month on campus, yet Forte's reputation for loitering inside Gallagher-Iba Arena is legendary, with two managers on call at all times.
To call Phil Forte a “gym rat” is to say that Stephen King types.
“Phil lives in the gym,” said Cowboys guard Marcus Smart, who has been Forte's teammate since grade school days.
According to Forte, it's a necessity.
“With my height and my athletic ability,” said the 5-11 freshman guard, “I know I can't just show up to practice and put in my two hours, like some people can. I'm not blessed that way. I was blessed with a hard work ethic.
“And I just know that if I want to compete at the level I want to compete at, I have to do the extra work. Put up extra shots … running, lifting, conditioning, whatever. I have to do all the little things. Eat right — everything — just to give me a slight edge with all the great athletes of the Big 12.”
Forte's shooting stroke is his ultimate edge.
In OSU's 80-66 win over West Virginia Saturday, Forte provided a rallying spark, firing in six 3-pointers on his way to a career-high 26 points. For the season, he's averaging 11.6 points per game as a perimeter marksman off the bench, with 46 makes from beyond the arc in 18 games.
He once went 9-for-9 on 3-pointers during a Texas high school game, taking advantage of a Plano team that kept giving him room to roam.
“I don't know what they were thinking, we'd played them the past two years and they were in our district, so they knew who Phil was,” Smart said. “But I guess they just didn't care. It was unbelievable.
“He just kept shooting. And we kept finding him.”
On this Cowboys team, that is Forte's role — to shoot and keep shooting.
Which for him, isn't really hard, given all the practice.