In advance of the 2020 NBA Draft, Peachtree Hoops is evaluating prospects with a look at what the Atlanta Hawks might be considering from now until the selection process occurs. Dozens of prospects will be profiled in this space and, this time around, we take a look at Florida State guard Trent Forrest.
Trent Forrest recently concluded a highly decorated college career. The Florida State guard was selected to both the All-ACC defensive team and the All-ACC second team for the 2019-20 season, and Forrest is now the winningest player in the history of the university’s men’s basketball program, garnering more than 100 victories in four seasons. He was a three-year rotation player under Leonard Hamilton, including two years as a prominent starter, and Forrest (comfortably) led the Seminoles in minutes this season, even with two projected first round picks — Devin Vassell and Patrick Williams — on the same roster.
With that as the backdrop, Forrest enters the 2020 NBA Draft as a largely unheralded prospect. The biggest reason for professional skepticism surrounding the 22-year-old guard is with his shooting and, of course, this is a familiar refrain for many prospects in the modern game.
Forrest, who stands at 6’4 with a reported 6’7 wingspan, essentially functioned as Florida State’s point guard in 2019-20. He led the team in assists (124 in 31 games) by a solid margin and, while Forrest didn’t carry the largest usage role on the roster, he was among a group hovering in the 20-22 percent range.
For his career, Forrest converted a very solid 49.4 percent clip on two-point shot attempts, taking advantage of his ability to turn the corner and proceed to the rim. While Forrest isn’t an elite finisher by any estimation, he graded out in the top 20 percent of major college players in floater/runner efficiency (per Synergy) and Forrest was able to maintain average shooting efficiency — 54 percent true shooting — despite his perimeter hiccups. Still, everyone will focus on his three-point shooting and with good reason.
Forrest shot only 24.8 percent from beyond the arc in his four-year career. That is a dismal mark for a 6’4 guard and, even with an uptick to 28.1 percent on a career-high 3.4 attempts per 100 possessions, skepticism is warranted about Forrest’s marksmanship. Those numbers shouldn’t be ignored, but Forrest’s shot doesn’t appear “broken” and, at the free throw line, he was able to improve steadily, posting a 74.8 percent career clip and shooting 82.2 percent from the charity stripe as a senior.
Because he doesn’t profile as a consistent on-ball force in the NBA, Forrest must produce improvement as a three-point shooter. That isn’t a controversial stance and, in short, it could prove to be the pivot point as to whether he can stick at the highest level. There are other points of offensive intrigue, though, including tangible aggressiveness.
Forrest attempted 7.3 free throws per 100 possessions in his career, which is more than acceptable for a relatively low-usage guard. Coupled with his improved shooting at the line, that is an area that could pay dividends for him in the NBA. From there, Forrest also maintained a 24.4 percent assist over his last three college seasons, ranking in the top 100 of the ACC — an elite college basketball conference — in all three campaigns. On the down side, Forrest did turn the ball over at a 21.8 percent clip in his final season, which is unsustainable for a player with his skill set.
All told, Forrest is not a great creator by any means, especially when compared to prospects of similar size. As such, he will have to transition into even a smaller offensive role in the NBA, which could place even more emphasis on his defense and, again, his shooting. Fortunately, there is a lot to like about Forrest on the other end of the floor.
Forrest is a very good athlete and, at 6’4 with long arms, he brings great size and physicality to the table as someone who can defend lead guards. He is very adept on the ball, staying in front of penetration and contesting shots effectively, even against top-tier competition.
Off the ball, Forrest is also tremendous, as evidenced by his block and steal rates. Though point guards aren’t required to “protect the rim” specifically, Forrest has a career 1.5 percent block rate that grew to 2.3 percent as a senior, and he is a great proprietor of the “chase down block.”
Elsewhere, Forrest boasted a 3.6 percent steal rate for his career, ranking in the top three of the loaded ACC in three straight seasons. He is an excellent off-ball defender in terms of positioning, and Forrest has a tangible feel for playing passing lanes and being in the right place at the right time. Finally, he is a willing and effective rebounder for a point guard, which is a nice attribute to top off an intriguing defensive package.
Overall, it is easy to see why there would be some level of skepticism with Forrest, as he is an older prospect with a glaring offensive weakness. Though it might help in his transition to the professional ranks, Forrest was often ignored by evaluators paying close attention to Vassell and Williams, perhaps lessening his overall standing in the public consciousness. Still, Forrest is a player that should absolutely be in consideration with a pick in the back half of the second round, and he was one of 60 prospects recently invited to the NBA’s official draft combine.
With regard to the Hawks, he would be an intriguing fit, either at No. 50 overall or potentially on a Two-Way contract after the draft. Forrest certainly doesn’t profile as a long-term starter in the league, but he defends and plays hard, with the size that the Hawks could prioritize in a long-term backup point guard.
All reports are glowingly positive on Forrest, from work ethic to off-court personality, and he is the kind of player that could provide long-term value in the right situation. In the end, everything might come back to his jump shot but, if he can find a passable baseline from long range, there is a lot to like with Forrest’s game.