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‘Live wire’ Jake Forrester eager to contribute


Freshman forward Jake Forrester ducks before attempting a shot during a scrimmage at Hoosier Hysteria on Sept. 29 in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Forrester and the Hoosiers will play an exhibition against Southern Indiana on Thursday.  Ty Vinson Buy Photos

Freshman forward Jake Forrester’s high school highlight reel is an athletic spectacle.

More specifically, his senior year tape is four minutes and 21 seconds of resounding dunks, acrobatic finishes and Dikembe Mutombo-esque blocks.

“He is a live wire,” IU coach Archie Miller said earlier this season. “He is as energetic, as vocal, as high-strung of a guy as I've had come into college in a while. He provides instant energy.”

But 13 games into the season, Forrester has had minimal chances to be the high-flying sensation his high school highlights reflect.

In six appearances, he’s averaged just 4.7 minutes per contest. His 28 total minutes played have been almost exclusively reserved for mop-up duty against far inferior teams.

Yet in those limited opportunities, Forrester has shined.

The most striking display of the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania native’s ability came Dec. 19, 2018 against the University of Central Arkansas.

Entering the game, a  four point, four rebound performance against Chicago State University on Nov. 6, 2018 was far and away his best display.

But with Central Arkansas held at bay, Forrester entered the game with 8:13 remaining.

His opening stretch wasn’t ideal. Within eight seconds Forrester had committed an offensive foul and granted the Bears possession.

Just one minute later, the script flipped. 

Out of the under-8 minute media timeout, Forrester converted an alley-oop dunk off a slick feed from junior guard Devonte Green. 

Moments later, he notched his second bucket of the night. Driving from the right wing, freshman forward Damezi Anderson found himself trapped along the left baseline. Anderson then flipped an off-balance pass around his defender to Forrester. 

Gathering in the post, he shielded the ball with his massive 6-foot-8 frame and finished a clinical layup at the rim for his second bucket of the night.

In just seven minutes, Forrester totaled a career-high eight points on 4-of-5 shooting along with two rebounds and a block.

“It felt good just to show the coaching staff what I can do when I get into the game,” Forrester said. “When Big Ten play comes around I’m just going to try to keep proving myself, to keep showing them I can play big minutes.”

On paper, the IU frontcourt is jammed. Sophomore Justin Smith and senior stalwart Juwan Morgan have held down the starting forward slots.

Further down the line, De’ron Davis has been a solid contributor off the bench while working back into game shape and Evan Fitzner offers 3-point shooting upside the rest of the roster lacks.

Given the crowded group, Forrester has leaned on Morgan and Davis to continue refining his game.

“I’ve definitely learned a lot from De’Ron and Juwan,” Forrester said. “They showed me a lot of things that I didn’t know coming in from high school. Stuff around the basket, just everything that has to do with basketball they taught me a lot.”

That said, outside of Smith, the IU roster could use an athletic infusion. 

Examples of Forrester’s leaping ability are everywhere. A simple internet search unearths a plethora of videos, recaps and stories that both visually and editorially magnify his athletic prowess.

“Just like that, live wire,” Forrester said of how he’d categorize his game. “I rebound the ball a lot, run the floor as hard as I can, try to to bring as much energy as I can to the team and just try to do ‘live’ plays – put-back dunks, just finish around the rim as much as I can.”

Forrester has also used his time behind Morgan, Davis, Fitzner and Smith to extend his game beyond the paint.

“I’ve recently been working on the 15-footer, pick and pop screens,” Forrester said. “I’m working on furthering my game as much as possible right now, it just takes time.”

As IU opens Big Ten play Thursday night against Illinois, the conference currently boasts seven Associated Press Top 25 teams. Thus, Forrester’s minutes stand to suffer.

And while the main conference slate may lead to minimal playing time, Miller’s eccentric freshman remains focused and ready for his number to be called.

“Every opportunity I can get on the court, on the floor, just trying to do all the things I can do to help this team win and try to take over,” Forrester said.

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