P R E P S C E N E had an opportunity to sit down with Westtown senior and recent Indiana University commit Jake Forrester. His journey, for younger student-athletes looking to obtain an athletic scholarship, is a blueprint worth emulating. Young kids looking for a role model may never reach Jake’s height or possess his athleticism but what makes Jake great is much deeper than physical attributes and basketball skills.
At 6-10, not only can Jake fill up a room with his imposing frame, but his personality and humility are bigger than life. You will not meet a more humble and grounded high major basketball star across the globe. As ferocious as he attacks the rim in traffic, posterizing his opponents with total disregard; off the court he is the complete opposite. His friendly smile radiates warmth, empathy, and confidence. Within moments of speaking with Jake, you realize his trajectory from the obscure lanky kid at Central Dauphin High School in Harrisburg, PA to one of the most sought after recruits in the Nation was no accident. His laser focus, attention to detail and ability to make others feel important are qualities every college coach in the nation picked up on instantly. It was former Indiana head coach Tom Crean who offered Jake last summer. However, new hire Archie Miller (Pride of Beaver Falls) knew he needed Jake to be a Hoosier after only a few seconds of speaking with him. Keep reading and you will see why!
First off congratulations on making it official, joining the Indiana Hoosier family
What were some of the keys to you reaching this point in your life, positioning you, inspiring you to excel?
Well my mom and dad. They assisted in so many ways, too much to mention unless you have all day. As far as inspiring… especially my dad definitely… He is one of my life’s biggest inspirations, His journey and knowledge, the path that he took in the basketball world, (Jake’s Father, Dwight played under John Chaney at Temple University in the 1980’S) the things he had to do and how he came up. I take a lot of those lessons as my foundation from him. I also do a lot of reading, I take a lot from books… lessons, inspirations, I have this book in my room now by Gandhi. I constantly pick that up. He teaches me to not lose my head, basically when things are getting tough to keep your cool. Just that one little book has taught me so much, so many lessons… having a sense of humor, quality of your work, patience!!! I definitely take that to the fullest.
If there was one piece of basketball advice you could give a rising freshman looking to follow your journey toward obtaining a scholarship and playing college basketball what would it be?
“Hmmm…that runs pretty deep. Usually kids will want to base their games… offensive moves off of the best players you can find in the NBA and college basketball. That can be a good thing, but usually not. They aren’t ready to emulate them yet. They haven’t developed the fundamentals to master those moves…What you can do is look at players that you see and look at the role they play on their team and understand that being a star in your role will get you to the next level. You can emulate the killer instincts they posses, the drive, determination and work-ethic of a superstar before you can perform their moves. The moves and finishes will come with hard work its a process.”
That is great advice, definitely…
“Yes, Be yourself, work hard and “Be a STAR in your ROLE!””
How about a piece of non-basketball advice you followed that might assist them in reaching their goal of playing college ball?
“You have to pick a good school, and I felt from the day I arrived at Westtown, I picked a great Prep School. You have to take the time to research, the decision is too important to waste a year of high school trying to figure it out. You don’t want to go to a school and its not a good fit. You want to go to a school that has a quality academic and athletic program. Westtown has been around since 1799, so the academic standards are strong, they are big on academics, you want to choose a school that’s big on academics so colleges know your serious about becoming part of their educational community and want to learn new things.
The Basketball program is pretty good at Westtown too, did that weigh on your decision to attend at all?
Absolutely, coming to Westtown, was a great decision… playing with guys like Mo Bamba, (Texas), Cam (Reddish, Duke Commit), and Brandon (Randolph, Arizona),and Tone (Anthony Ochefu, Stony Brook) last year – they all taught me so much. Mo Bamba taught me the most, practicing with him and how hard he worked to become a lottery draft pick, I see him going in the top 3 next year. Playing against him everyday made me better, I learned everyday…He pushed me. Its my time now to translate those lessons and instill that work-ethic into the young guys that are here.
Westtown has provided you with a well-rounded experience, what are somethings away from campus you enjoy?
Being well rounded is important, I’m also very competitive in my studies Doing well in the classroom is a mindset. Being around like minded individuals with similar goals. That has been the biggest blessing. Surround yourself with people headed in your direction. I enjoy being in the community, I get emails, instagram DM’s, texts and Twitter notifications from parents “I want you to come”… “It would be great if you could come to my son’s party”… or a coach asking, “can you come to talk to my team,” …take pictures…ect. Its important to me to always be involved with the community around me. Be nice to everyone, bring smiles to peoples faces.
What was it like signing on the dotted line, to know your going to don the Crimson and Cream for the Indiana Hoosiers?
“I can’t believe it, its hard to imagine all the hard work and sweat throughout my journey got me to this point. I worked very hard and with my parents support actually reached one of my dreams. This is just the beginning, I have a lot to prove.”
You just signed with one of the most respected college basketball programs in the country , things to prove?
“Yea, without a doubt, I have to prove I can be a leader on the court, I have to prove that I can actually put in the work to win Big 10 Freshman of the Year in 18 months. A whole bunch left to prove. That I can knock down open jump shots, I have to prove that I can put the ball on the floor consistently. There is still a lot of things I have to work on and polish in my game. That’s all part of the process and that’s definitely something I am going to work on.
What specifically have you been working on this week to prepare for the upcoming season and to play college basketball next season?
“I am definitely just trying to work on my mid-post game my high post game and my facing the basket post game. That’s just me trying to be a “star” in my role. Setting good screens and rolling to the basket, pick and pop all that stuff. I am improving daily.”
What are some goals you have for yourself this upcoming season?
Win the Friends League Championship, State Championship – head to head vs Zion Williamson, Oak Hill, possibly if we win opening round, IMG, it will be really good to win some of those national games also.
How about for just you personally?
“Become a well-rounded player and get ready for Indiana is the biggest goal for myself.”
In 5 years. you see yourself where in a perfect world?
“NBA without a doubt.”
Kids looking up to you, should know what… If we made a movie today about your childhood what would the theme be?
“My life definitely proves that hard work and determination can make your dreams a reality. Changing everything around you for the better works. The impact change can have on your life. I have a dream and with the support of my family I am able to position myself with a real chance to obtain it one day… All because I embraced change.”