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.
by John Helsley Published: January 29, 2013

OSU assigns managers to every player, guys who are asked to show up and rebound and provide passes whenever a Cowboy wants to put in extra work. Most players put in some time.

Forte literally has the GIA facilities man waiting to turn off the lights.

“It's funny, the person who has to turn out the lights is always waiting for him,” Lewis said. “We're like, ‘Only 20 more shots.'”

Forte's regimen isn't defined by shots, but rather makes. During the season, he shoots until he makes 500, with 300 of them 3s. In the offseason, the total number of makes rises to 700.

Seven days a week.

The workout starts with a few free throws, extends to midrange jumpers, then out beyond the 3-point line, where Forte fires away from designated spots all around the arc, like some old game of around the world.

“I've seen him catch fire in one spot and make 15 in a row, like it's nothing,” said Dustin Easterling, the other freshman manager assigned to Forte.

Easterling and Lewis are literally on speed dial — or speed text — with Forte likely to summon them to GIA at any time.

Before and after practice.

After women's games.

After his own games.

“After the TCU game, which wasn't a great shooting game for him (1-of-7 overall, 1-of-5 from the arc), I went in the locker room,” Easterling said. “He came up to me and said, ‘Can you rebound for me later.'

“We went and ate and came back up there about 11:30, 11:45 and shot. We were probably there until about 1, 1:30 (a.m.).”

Lewis and Easterling both claim to love their roles, taking particular pride — and a little bit of credit — whenever Forte goes off like he did against the Mountaineers.

“I really enjoy watching him do great,” Lewis said. “Rebounding for him all week, it's fun to see the shots that we work on.

“I can tell people I know, ‘We worked on that 100 times this week!'”

Said Easterling: “I always tease him in practice. If he misses a shot, I'll walk up to him and say, ‘C'mon, we're in the gym for two hours and you're missing shots?'”

Friendships have formed among the three. And Forte clearly appreciates the sacrifices.

“We have great managers who really work well with me,” Forte said. “I'm fortunate to have that option, to help me be more efficient.”

Except efficiency isn't really good enough for Forte.

“He's like the only person I've met who gets mad on a make,” Lewis said. “If it wasn't a perfect shot, and it'll swish, he'll get mad. I'll ask him, ‘Why are you mad?' He'll say, ‘It didn't come off the way I wanted it to.'

“He wants it to be perfect. And he wants it to be a great shot. I've never heard of anyone getting mad from a make.”

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by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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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.

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