Jaylen Forbes has made a name for himself in summer tournament basketball and he’s looking to cement himself as one of the top players at this year’s Beach Ball Classic with a strong outing.
The 6-foot-5 shooting guard for Florence (Mississippi) became a breakout star on the Nike EYBL – or elite youth basketball league – circuit where he faced some of the top players in the country throughout the summer.
His play against the best of the best, averaging 20 points per game, landed his biggest college offer, the University of Alabama, where he committed in August.
“Before I started playing on the EYBL circuit, I had a few schools looking at me, but playing against the best competition got me on Alabama’s radar,” Forbes said following Florence’s 76-60 loss to North Little Rock (Arkansas) on Wednesday. “Alabama wasn’t really on my radar as far as colleges go, but I took a visit there and fell in love with the place and the coaching staff. Coach Avery (Johnson) has a great program and his system is something I’m excited to play in.”
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Back with his high school teammates, Forbes faces more attention and scrutiny from his opposition as a four-star caliber player. He’s considered a top 100 player and the second best prospect in Mississippi this season.
Forbes is asked to play a different role with his high school team than he did in the EYBL circuit, shouldering more post play and offensive expectations for Florence.
“Jaylen has improved a great deal since his freshman year when I started coaching him,” said Florence coach Darrin Chancellor. “Since playing in the EYBL and working hard on his game, he’s added a really good outside game, a three-point shot that has made him even better on this level. He’s a kid we have to play at the 4 or 5, but he’s played as a 2 or 3 against some of the bigger kids in AAU and has developed that game to complement what we ask him to do for us.”
On Wednesday, Forbes and his team played their first game in nearly two weeks and ran into a balanced attack from North Little Rock. Forbes put up 37 of his team’s 64 shots, scoring 27 points to go along with 17 rebounds. The high shooting volume was rare, but showed Forbes’ commitment to his teammates, said his coach.
“Normally he will put up 20 to 24 shots per game and will score about 28 points per game,” Chancellor said. “He noticed that our guys were struggling and that he would have to shoulder more of the load, so he did. He gave an incredible effort, but he was missing some shots that he would normally make. I expect to see him do even better as we play more games (in the tournament).”
As Florence moves forward in the consolation bracket of the Classic, Forbes has a chance to put on a show in first trip to Myrtle Beach.