It's a game Forte was always meant for, only seemingly for the other side.
The Jayhawks were in his blood, literally, since his dad and mom, Julie, both went to KU. Father and son followed the Jayhawks often, seeing them lose to Syracuse in the 2003 title game in New Orleans; seeing them lose to UCLA in San Jose in the Elite Eight in 2007; and enjoying the 2008 national title conquest of Memphis in 2008 in San Antonio.
Forte had his chance to be a Jayhawk, too, holding a scholarship offer from KU coach Bill Self.
Except he went against the legacy and all those years of Rock Chalk love to sign with OSU.
“I just didn't think that was the best place for me to go and play,” he said. “I felt like Oklahoma State fit me the best individually. I'd love to say it worked out for the best so far.”
So far, so rewarding.
Still, the offer from KU carried appeal.
“Oh, yeah, it was definitely tempting,” Forte said. “Most people who knew me from back home and have known me a while would have thought I was going to Kansas. Parents went there. Grew up a big fan.
“But I decided to be smart about it, see what was the best choice for me. And that's how I ended up here.”
That decision factors heavily in this Big 12 title chase, not only in Forte's impact, but in the likelihood that Smart would have joined his high school teammate and close friend at KU, since he's on record in saying that they decided to stick together in college.
In the Cowboys, Forte had evidence that a 5-10 shooting guard had a defined role, seeing Keiton Page just complete a stellar career in Stillwater. Besides, the undersized gym rat description also applies to OSU coach Travis Ford.
“Seeing Keiton play and start 3 1/2 years on TV, the things that he did here,” Forte said, “it made me think it was possible that, ‘Hey, if he did it, maybe I can do it, too, here.'
“Coach Ford believes in players like us, who are rare in college basketball these days. That really got my attention and is probably why I came to Oklahoma State.”
MORE FROM NEWSOK
No. 14 Oklahoma State vs. No. 9 Kansas
* When: 8 p.m. Wednesday
* Where: Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater
* TV: ESPN2 (Cox 28/HD 721; U-Verse 606/HD 1606; Dish 144; DirecTV 209)
* Radio: KXXY-FM 96.1
Three things to know
* Among the stakes: the Big 12 championship chase and the Player of the Year race, between OSU's Marcus Smart and KU's Ben McLemore.
* Travis Ford can reach 100 wins at OSU with a victory over the Jayhawks.
* Cowboys center Philip Jurick, who played just five minutes against OU due to matchup problems, will be back in the spotlight against KU 7-footer Jeff Withey.