ATHENS — Cameron Forte, who had perhaps the pivotal shot during Georgia’s run to an NCAA tournament bid, won’t stick around to try to make another run.
Forte is leaving the team, it was announced Wednesday. The forward is graduating this summer and will be eligible to play immediately at another program.
While the news means one less veteran for next year’s team, it opens up the chance to bring in another player. Georgia had been at the NCAA’s scholarship limit but is now free to sign at least one more player.
Forte’s departure does not come as a surprise, according to sources, as he had been considering the move for a while. It’s partly why head coach Mark Fox and his staff had remained active on the recruiting trail.
In a statement posted on his Twitter feed, Forte thanked Fox and Georgia and said he felt it was “in my best interest” to play his final year of college “closer to home.”
“This was a tough decision to make because I spent two amazing and unforgettable years in Athens,” Forte’s statement read. “I’m thankful to the UGA athletic association, UGA academic staff and my coaches for the outgoing support these last two years.
“I will miss my teammates and the friendship I have with them will last a lifetime. I’m also grateful for the fans that kept us going and supported us throughout the good and tough times. They were the real difference-makers. Thank you for everything Dawg Nation!”
Forte was a reserve, but he had one of the team’s most important baskets of the season. His baseline jump shot with six seconds left in overtime lifted Georgia to a one-point win in February at Alabama. That ended a two-game losing streak for the Bulldogs, spurring them to a strong finish that helped lift them into the NCAA tournament.
During SEC play this past season, Forte averaged 4.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 17.4 minutes.
“Cam has been a key part of our team,” Fox said. “He is on track to graduate this summer, and that was a goal we both shared for him. I am thankful for the efforts he gave our team and proud of his academic accomplishment. This spring he expressed the desire to be closer to home, and we have granted him a full release to pursue this desire. We wish him well as he moves forward.”
Forte, who is from Tempe, Arizona, was at Georgia for two seasons. He played his first season at Howard College in Big Spring, Texas, and was also briefly on the team at Texas Tech.
In two seasons at Georgia, Forte averaged 3.7 points and 2.4 rebounds, including 4.0 points and 2.8 rebounds this past season.
Georgia has signed four players for this year’s class, most recently forward-center Michael Edwards. While there are several high school seniors still on the radar, the coaches appear to be focusing on a graduate transfer who could play immediately.