A crimson Forrest, perpetually in motion

HE MAY NOT BE, on any given night, the Cougar that SportsCenter will select for the Washington State highlight package. But he is one of Tony Bennett's most valuable assets coming off the bench. Indeed, Caleb Forrest is critical to the Cougars' success this season and it's primarily due to his tenacity at both ends of the floor. He's also sneaky good at scoring the rock.

The Cougs are running 8-deep in their rotation and the guy who comes in for the Cougs to bang in the paint on defense, scrap for the loose ball and keep the possession alive on the offensive end is Forrest.

"Caleb is one of our fiercest competitors," said Bennett.

And the Cougs need him to be -- Washington State does not have a plethora of bigs to go to this year. Fabian Boeke was expected to contribute but the tallest player on the Wazzu team (6-11) has not been certified for competition by the NCAA and his appeal is still pending.

Forrest meanwhile, a 6-8, 228 pound junior forward, is averaging a little over 10 minutes a game. His stats don't leap off the page, he has 2.4 rebounds and 3.3 points per in limited playing time, but a closer look reveals his value.

CASE IN POINT, the Baylor and Gonzaga games, the two biggest wins of the young season for the Cougars. Forrest played but nine and four minutes respectively in the two nailbiter victories but he made every second count.

Against Baylor, with Aron Baynes and Kyle Weaver in early foul trouble, the Cougs were on the verge of falling behind in the first half by an insurmountable margin. But Forrest, along with Daven Harmeling and Nikola Koprivica combined to do just enough to keep WSU in striking distance, setting up the second half fireworks and thrilling comeback win.

At Gonzaga, Forrest drew two offensive fouls, tipped a rebound to Cowgill and scored on a give and go from Kyle Weaver. He also helped force a turnover and denied Robert Sacre a bucket when the Gonzaga big man was down deep in the paint.

"He's so tough minded, and I have confidence in him. Sometimes I haven't played him as much in the second half...but Caleb in limited minutes, he does things well," said Bennett. "He is a very good offensive rebounder, he really has a nose for the ball."

THERE ARE ALSO some things Forrest does well but hasn't yet necessarily shown them in games this season, though they are on display in the Cougs' practice sessions.

"If you were at our practices on a consistent basis, first you'd see how tenacious he is but secondly you'd see he is a continuous player. He is always keeping balls alive on the offensive glass, and getting offensive rebounds. He's very unselfish," said Bennett.

And he has a nice jumper. Though he did score a team high 13 point against Mississippi Valley State earlier this year, because of his hustle, and because the Cougs have five starters who can all be Wazzu's leading scorer on any given night, Forrest's primarily role isn't to fill up the cord.

That doesn't mean he doesn't have a shooter's touch -- he does, says Bennett.

"He can shoot the ball -- he did it as a freshman and you'll see some stretches where he'll really shoot the ball well and stretch the defense. But he's a team guy all the way," said Bennett.

HE IS ALSO a more fluid player that might appear at first glance -- guys who hustle and scrap every second they're on the court and who play physical, suffocating defense usually are, and Forrest is no exception.

"He doesn't have the greatest posture and he looks a little unorthodox with his floppy hair and the way he moves," said Bennett. "But he can be effective, and will be effective.

"He will have an important role I think this season," said Bennett.

Caleb Forrest profile

  • Forrest was rated one of the top 10 hoops prospects coming out of Colorado, averaging 20 points and eight rebounds per game at Pagosa Springs High. A team captain, he was named "Mr. 3A Basketball" by The Rocky Mountain News following his senior campaign. As a junior, he averaged 17 points and 7.5 boards. Offering a glimpse into his college days, he was described by analysts as fiery and aggressive as a prep player, and also one who could dunk with authority. "He is what I would call a natural rebounder because he goes after everything," said former WSU coach Dick Bennett.

  • The Cougs look to have settled in with an 8-man rotation but Bennett said that it isn't set in stone. "Right now I feel, comfortably, we're eight deep. There is still competition, maybe a guy like (Thomas) Abercrombie, and (Jeremy) Cross and (Stephen) Sauls are potential guys in there. But (we're) 8-deep with Daven, Nik and Caleb," said Bennett.

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