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Cameron Forte feels he's finally found his basketball home as a member of the Georgia Bulldogs.
It's not the first time he felt that way.
The 6-foot-5 native of Tempe, Az. figured the next four years of his life were set when he signed with Texas Tech following a record-breaking senior season at McClintock High.
What a season it was.
Forte averaged 36.2 points and pulled down 12.7 rebounds, helping McClintock reach the 2012 Arizona Class 4A state championship game.
But once at Texas Tech, Forte saw more pine time than playing time, and after not seeing any action during the Red Raiders' 8-23 campaign, decided to start over, this time at Howard Junior College.
"The JUCO experience was something. It's a rough experience. You're not getting the charter planes, you're not getting all the top-notch stuff that you get here or at other Division I programs," recalled Forte, who once scored 60 points in high school. "But the competition was there. It's great competition. It's no Division I, but you can find great players scattered throughout JUCO."
While at Howard, Forte showed he hadn't lost his scoring touch.
Last season, Forte led his team in scoring, averaging 22.5 points per game, leading Howard to a 30-7 record before its season ended in the quarterfinals of the national NJCAA tournament in Hutchinson, Kan.
Now at Georgia, Bulldog head coach Mark Fox hopes his second opportunity in a major college program will result in a better experience and a keener appreciation of where he's been.
"I think Cameron does appreciate it. That doesn't mean it's easy for him," Fox said. "I was a guy who played JUCO so I can bark at him all I want about being a JUCO guy, but I think he does have a sincere appreciation. But the transition is still tough."
Forte said definite lessons have been learned.
"Absolutely," he said. "It's matured me, but also humbled me in a way. The demands there aren't as extensive as they are here or at other Division programs, either. It was a good experience, but I'm happy to be here."
Bulldog fans can get their first look at Forte and the rest of the Georgia men's and women's teams during the second annual Basketbash! set for Friday night at Stegeman Coliseum.
The event will provide fans with a sneak peak at the 2013-14 basketball teams and will also include interactive games, giveaways for UGA students and autographs with both teams from 7-8 p.m. on the Smith Street concourse.
Admission is free.
Forte said Georgia stood out to him from the start.
"When I was making my decision I wanted to feel comfortable," he said. "I wanted to feel comfortable with the people around me, and just find somewhere where I could go and be part of a great program."
That wasn't all.
"I really liked this offense. I saw Charles (Mann), the point guard," Forte said. "I thought he was a great one and he was getting everybody involved. That's something I wanted to be a part of."
Fox sees Forte is a player who can help the Bulldogs right out of the gate.
"He's got great instincts, he really does. I joke with him he's got an ugly game but he's got really good instincts. That's one of the things I was looking for when we offered him."
Forte said he's ready to help the Bulldogs any way he can, especially on the offensive end.
But he's also not quite ready to make any predictions.
"I am, but it's also a process so I can't just jump in and think I'm going to be the man," Forte said. "I know there's a lot that I still have to learn, but I think I'm a good fit here so hopefully one day I can do that."
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