Hometown hoopster budding star for March Madness-bound UNC-W
Known as ‘J-5’ on the court, Jaylen Fornes impressive as Seahawk freshman guard
ORLANDO – Early Thursday afternoon, UNC-Wilmington takes on the University of Virginia Cavaliers in a first round game of the NCAA basketball tournament. Expect plenty of cheers throughout Pamlico County as local fans hope Jaylen Fornes can work his magic as a freshman guard for the Seahawks.
Fornes, 19, played varsity basketball for one year at Pamlico County High School, before transferring to Word of God High School in Raleigh. He started for the Hurricanes as a freshman, which was a good indicator of his talent, according to Garry Cooper, a former Seahawk star in the early 1980s.
“You could see the gift he was blessed with, even when he was playing in the seventh and eighth grades,” recalled Cooper, who is now the Director of the Pamlico County Recreation Department. Cooper should know – he is a member of the UNC-W Basketball Hall of Fame, and predicts good things for the young athlete.
“I didn’t get a chance to coach him, but he was well-loved here, and a very good ballplayer,” said Cooper, during a brief telephone interview Wednesday morning. “If he keeps working hard, and sticks with it, Jaylen could possibly make the Hall of Fame himself – that’s how good I think he can be.”
Jaylen retains strong Pamlico County roots. His mother Rebecca Fornes, older brothers Jake and Lucas, and grandparents Dennis and Lola Fornes live in the area. All will undoubtedly be tuned in – either courtside (like Mom) — or glued to the TV set Thursday afternoon.
The move to Raleigh, early in his high school career, was a plus for Jaylen, said his mother, but his biggest exposure to college recruiters came during summer months, while playing AAU basketball. She said 22 colleges expressed an interest in Jaylen, before he decided on UNC-W, adding that the big decision was predicated in part upon the great reputation of UNC-W Head Coach, Kevin Keatts.
“We learned that college scouts don’t care too much about high school performance,” said Rebecca. “In Jaylen’s case, it seemed to be all about what he did during the AAU games. He’s on a full scholarship, and he’s got a 3.2 Grade Point Average, so we are mighty proud of him.”
#5 Jaylen Fornes
-Played final minute in CAA championship game vs. College of Charleston
-Played 10 minutes and grabbed four rebounds vs. W&M in CAA semifinals
-Scored two points with two rebounds in CAA quarterfinals vs. Delaware
-Played nine minutes vs. Towson and scored eight points
-Scored three points and had career-high four rebounds at Elon
-Started for second straight game vs. JMU and had eight points and two assists
-Made first career start and responded with career-high 17 points vs. Delaware
-Scored eight points at William & Mary
-Contributed seven points vs. Drexel
-Collected five points and three rebounds vs. W&M
-Had season-high seven points vs. Pfeiffer
-Scored four points in six minutes vs. Toledo
-Had season-high five points vs. Middle Tennessee State on Nov. 25, 2016
-Came off the bench to play nine minutes at Eastern Kentucky
-Scored three points and grabbed two rebounds in collegiate debut vs. Claflin
-Athletic scoring guard who should contribute right away for Seahawks
-Four-year scholarship to UNC-W
-Current Grade Point Average of 3.2
-Played as freshman at Pamlico County High School in Bayboro, N.C.
-Transferred to Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, N.C.
-Played for Coach Brian Clifton at Word of God
-Member of varsity team for four seasons
-Also played football at Word of God
-Indications of interest from 22 colleges, before choosing UNC-W
-Full Name: Jaylen Aaron Fornes
-Born in Grantsboro, N.C.
-Son of Corey Green and Rebecca Fornes
-Played for ‘Team Loaded’ of AAU