Demons add three signees with Florida ties

The construction of the 2023-24 Northwestern State men’s basketball roster is under way.

Head coach Rick Cabrera announced the addition of three transfers Wednesday, all of whom have ties to Florida.

Guard Chase Forte, forward Jimel Lane and center JC Riley signed to play for Northwestern State, becoming the first roster additions for Cabrera, who was hired in March as Northwestern State’s 11th head men’s basketball coach.

“I’m excited to announce the signing of these young men as new members of the Demon family,” Cabrera said. “They exemplify every trait that I look for in a student athlete. They are high character young men added with a wealth of talent and toughness.”

Forte, a 6-foot-4 product of Raleigh, North Carolina, tied for the Region 8 scoring lead at 20.1 points per game while leading the region with 2.8 steals per game. His 5.8 assists per game ranked second in the region, making him the only player in the region to rank in the top five in three separate categories. His efforts earned Forte a spot on the All-NJCAA Region 8 team and on the All-Florida College System Activities Association Team.

Forte began his career at UNC Asheville before playing two seasons at Gulf Coast State. In his two seasons with the Commodores, Forte averaged 16.7 points per game across 53 games while chipping in 308 career assists and 129 career steals.

At Word of God Christian Academy, Forte averaged 12 points, eight assists and six rebounds per game as a senior, earning a spot on the John Wall Invitational All-Tournament team and the team’s Luke Sasser Award for the top GPA on the team. A versatile athlete, Forte also played football and ran track at Word of God.

“Signing a young man of Chase Forte’s talent was a top priority for me the moment I was offered the job,” Cabrera said. “He was one arguably the best two-way player in the toughest juco league in the country. He displayed a great ability to score the basketball in many ways as well as always defended the opponent’s team’s best player. I’m looking forward to Chase translating his talents to the Southland Conference.”

Lane enjoyed a high-scoring freshman season at Division II Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida.

A Miami native who played at Palmetto High School, Lane averaged 17.9 points per game, highlighted by three games of at least 30 points. He dropped 30 on Johnson University in his collegiate debut and matched that at Florida Southern. He set a career high with 24 points on 14-for-21 shooting, including a 4-for-8 performance from 3-point range, against Saint Leo on Jan. 7.

Lane, a 6-foot-7, 190-pound forward, ranked second on the team in scoring and in rebounding (6.6 per game) while blocking 1.1 shots per game and adding 0.9 steals per contest.

“Jimel was very high on our recruiting list out of high school when we were at Tallahassee Community College,” Cabrera said. “He checks all the boxes that I look for in a wing with his length, size and most importantly, talent. His versatility has all-conference potential in the Southland Conference. I’m excited to see to his growth for the next three years.”

Riley, a 6-foot-9, 225-pound center from Atlanta, played for Cabrera at Tallahassee Community College. Because of an injury, Riley appeared in just two games with the Eagles, who reached the NJCAA Final Four.

In his brief Tallahassee career, Riley averaged 3.5 points and five rebounds per game while playing an average of 11 minutes per game.

Prior to Tallahassee, Riley averaged nearly a double-double at Lowndes High School, scoring 11.3 points per game and grabbing nine rebounds per contest. He tallied nine double-doubles as a senior and blocked 1.7 shots per game while adding a steal per game.

“JC Riley’s path to NSU has been unique,” Cabrera said. “From the time he stepped foot on the TCC campus in June, I knew this kid was a special talent. He’s by far the most skilled player with his back to the basket that I’ve coached in a long time. Unfortunately, he had an injury that limited him to two games which resulted in him redshirting. During our preseason games and practices, JC displayed to me that he was a Division I talent. I’m excited for to be able to coach him and watch him grow as a player.”

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