When he watched a video of Michael Jordan he was so inspired that he found a basketball and, for the first time in his life, started playing. This didn't happen in an American suburb or urban neighborhood, nor was he a country boy.
In the shadow of Big Ben, near the festive Picadilly Square and amidst the fog of London, England, Germayne Forbes learned to play basketball on outside blacktops, some under highway overpasses. In a country where soccer, rugby and Formula One racing are kings, basketball gets very little attention. If a talented kid doesn't get a lucky break, he may go all his life and never know if he could have been the next NBA star.
Born and raised in London (near Notting Hill where the Hugh Grant/Julia Roberts movie of the same name was filmed), Germayne grew up playing competitively in all the sports that Great Britain had to offer. Very athletic, he excelled at them all. Sports ran in his blood as his father was a professional boxer before an injury prematurely ended his career.
How he got noticed in America is interesting.
He played on a team in London but it was very obscure, as were all basketball teams in Great Britain. A coach noticed Forbes and, after some phone calls, managed to arrange for 6'2" shooting guard to attend a camp in Southern California. Germayne promptly was named MVP and Most Improved in this camp; plenty of high school and junior college coaches were watching. A call was placed to Gonzaga by one of these coaches, and the rest is history. Mark Few visited Great Britain to watch him a couple times and then former head coach Dan Monson visited his family. Soon, it was a done deal.
Germayne was a Zag.
Forbes says basketball in England is quite a bit behind hoops in America. There is more talent there than most know, but he explains that most reach a certain level and never improve to the utmost of their abilities. The tough competition that makes a player better is lacking.
When Germayne arrived at Gonzaga he was eager to play, but it wasn't to be. The NCAA told him he needed to take one more Social Science class to be eligible. So, Forbes took three classes to make sure the requirement was fulfilled, all three related to society in some manner. But the NCAA didn't like the classes he took and said none of them qualified. By this time Forbes had used up his redshirt year.
Now he had to sit out yet another year and watch a year of eligibility waste away. If he graduates in four years, he can request a fifth year and get his "lost year" back if he so chooses to. He knows he hasn't been the only victim of tough-luck eligibility; Forbes was very angry at how the NCAA treated Mario Kasun whom Germayne came to know well while the big Croatian was on campus.
His personal goals are simple: to continue to improve. Shooting and ball-handling are his strengths. He is working hard now at defense and slashing into the paint.
But it's team goals that the sharp-shooter likes to talk about. He wants to run the table in the WCC and return to the Big Dance. He wants to contribute like he never has before. As a "6th man" he wants to be able to come off the bench hot. And he wants to be ready and confident in case unforeseen injuries to fellow Zags force him into a starting role, something he sounds ready for.
Obviously, confidence is not an issue.
Asked if a Final Four could be in Gonzaga's immediate future and Germayne's reply is quick: "Definitely."
Although GU has lost Casey Calvary and Mark Spink, Forbes says, "That's the beauty of college basketball." Student-athletes go, new ones fill in and carry on. He is a total team player and is very high on his team mates' talent levels and the improvement he sees around him. One of his favorite players besides Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant is none other than Dan Dickau.
Germayne carries a 2.9 GPA, is pursuing a major in Public Relations and would like to play pro ball after Gonzaga, if not in America, in Europe. He loves basketball. He sees himself coaching and working with kids years from now, opening up bright futures for English hoopsters in the USA.
Basketball can open doors and even give opportunities like representing your country at the World University Games in Beijing, China. Forbes witnessed the Great Wall of China, something he may have never seen if not for his gift for hoops.
When not playing or practicing or resting up for practices, Germayne can be found listening to a variety of music, from rap and hip-hop to soul and classical. He has a fondness for the sound of a piano. One of his favorite recording artists is Craig David whom he saw in concert in Dallas with a friend this past summer. He also enjoys video games.
Forbes has yet to try to make a Palace Guard smile, laugh or flinch… But he has thought about it.