Football season has barely begun, but the University of Akron basketball team is in preseason training for the upcoming year and eyes are likely to focus on transfer Pat Forsythe, a native of Brunswick who transferred from West Virginia.
Forsythe is seeking a hardship waiver that will allow him to play this season rather than sit out a year as is the case with most Division I transfers. Forsythe’s father is legally blind and that is why he transferred to UA.
“Akron is where my dad’s eye doctor is,” Forsythe said. “I was getting interest from Cleveland State and other schools, but Akron was the one that is more convenient for my father and me. It was very important to come back and play locally. I wanted to be closer to my dad, my stepmom [Chelly] and my [four] siblings.”
A decision regarding his status should come within the next couple of weeks after submission of more information to the NCAA.
In the meantime, Forsythe has been working out with his future teammates and UA coach Keith Dambrot likes what he sees.
Forsythe, who was an All-Ohio Division I first-team selection as a senior at Brunswick, where he averaged 22.5 points, 12.6 rebounds and 6.1 blocks, likes to rebound the ball.
“I like him. When we go low block, we’ll see how good he really is,” Dambrot said. “From what the guys told me, he had a tough time scoring over Zeke [Marshall], which everyone in the country does.”
What could be as intriguing as watching Forsythe and Marshall go at it in practice is having them on the court at the same time.
“The problem is we have those other two forwards (Demetrius Treadwell, Nick Harney) who are good players,” Dambrot said. “They have to get minutes too.”
The primary concern is whether Forsythe will be able to play this year. According to statistics in an ESPN.com report, he has roughly a 50-50 shot.
In the past five years, 47 hardship requests for basketball players have been approved and 47 have been denied. In the past year, there have been 15 approvals and 17 denials.
Most recently, Central Michigan point guard Trey Zeigler received a hardship transfer after his father, who coached the team, was fired.
Betancourt shows up
Remembering the Zips’ 64-63 loss to Ohio in last season’s MAC Tournament championship game could be painful. In the end, the path to victory was simple: control Ohio point guard D.J. Cooper and the game, championship and trip to the NCAA Tournament belonged to UA. Eventually, the Zips had to watch the Bobcats go on an impressive run in the tourney.
Blame lack of depth for what happened in that game. Freshman Carmelo Betancourt might be the much needed answer to that problem.
A native of Puerto Rico, Betancourt has apparently been locking down opponents during workouts. Of course, game situations are completely different, but Dambrot is impressed.
“I like the fact that he likes to play,” Dambrot said. “He works really hard on his game. He’s a pass-first point guard and he’s a defensive point guard. He’s good on the ball, so he’s a great mix with Alex [Abreu].”
In the first two months of the season, the Zips play five Sunday games, giving them a chance to be televised.
“We’re going to be on television all three of those games in Puerto Rico,” Dambrot said. “We’ll probably be on at least 12 or 15 times.”
Zips add one
According to reports, the Zips plucked a player out of North Carolina on Tuesday.
B.J. Gladden, a 6-foot-6 small forward from Charlotte, returned from his official visit this past weekend already sold on attending UA.
It didn’t hurt that Gladden had indirect ties to the area, according to ESPN.com. His uncle, Lebron Gladden, played for Dambrot at Ashland University.
“I love the coaches and the facilities and I am originally from Ohio. Keith Dambrot has great energy, he gets on you and puts a lot on your plate but he cares about his players. They win and go to the NCAA Tournament,” he said.
Former Garfield High School standout Darius Hoisten worked out with other walk-ons at Rhodes Arena on Wednesday morning. He averaged 17 points and more than 10 rebounds per game last season for the Golden Rams, according to MaxPreps.com.
George M. Thomas can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.