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UNC Freshman Shows His 'Forte' On The Basketball Court

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INDIANAPOLIS — Joseph Forte will be remembered as one of North Carolina's greatest freshman.

Forte has already tallied the most points by a UNC rookie. He joined an elite group by being named the Tar Heels' fifth ACC Rookie of the Year and after being named as the MVP of the South Region in the NCAA Tournament. There have even been comparisons to former UNC player Michael Jordan.

"I've never seen Mr. Jordan play as a freshman," Forte says. "It's just great to be here at Carolina compared to the great players of the past. I just try to be the best Joseph Forte I can be."

The freshman is averaging over 16 points per game. His confidence is growing as well.

In UNC's game against Tennessee, Forte hit five of his first six shots. When the Tar Heels trailed the Volunteers by seven with 4:30 to play, Forte hit a key 3-pointer to spur the Tar Heels' comeback.

"He's a very confident player," says UNC center Brendan Haywood. "He believes if he misses 10 shots in a row, the eleventh one is going to fall. That's the type of player you have to be."

UNC guard Ed Cota says Forte came in with a sense of confidence.

"He took it upon himself to really go hard," Cota says. "He knew that he was getting the most shots as a freshman so he took a lot of pride in that."

Forte's confidence needed a little fine-tuning in a game against Missouri. When Forte went 2-of-10 from the field, UNC coach Bill Guthridge had a couple of words for the freshman.

"He told me that if I was going to shoot the ball like I was scared, don't shoot it at all," Forte says. "It seems like ever since that comment he made to me, everything has gone pretty well."

"You never know what you say to a player, what will happen, and Joseph said after I told him to shoot the ball, he felt that helped him," Guthridge says. "My guess is that he would have made that correction."

The Tar Heels will face the Florida Gators Saturday evening in the NCAA semifinals.

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Tom Crichton, Reporter
Jeff Gravley, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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