Forehan-Kelly Walks into Spotlight
Jan. 9, 2001
BERKELEY - Junior wingman Ryan Forehan-Kelly entered the University of California in the fall of 1998 as a student hoping to find a spot on the men's basketball team. Little did he know that two years later, he would not only be rewarded with a scholarship, but also find a place within the starting line-up
Forehan-Kelly's consistent efforts to improve, develop and progress have allowed him to take advantage of the opportunities available for him at Cal, aspects he to head coach Ben Braun's methodology and style of coaching.
'Before I came to Cal, I heard that Ben Braun was a fair coach,' Forehan-Kelly said. 'He wanted to win, and he would play the guys who could get the job done, even if they were walk-ons. It didn't matter if you were on scholarship. If you played hard, you had a chance.'
Coming out of Irvine's Santa Margarita High School, Forehan-Kelly believed that choosing Cal would be a wise decision, although financial burdens seemed to interfere at first.
'My family really pushed me to come to Cal, even though my mother and my brother gave up a lot for me to come to here.' Forehan-Kelly said. 'I could have gotten a scholarship somewhere else, but they wanted me to make a decision based on academics rather than money. I'm really thankful that my mom, my brother and my grandparents allowed me to make this move.'
Forehan-Kelly earned a spot on the team as a freshman walk-on and soon began to focus on developing his skills in practice as a new member of the Gold Team, the unit that works out against the starters and is also known as Reynaud's Raiders for assistant coach Louis Reynaud. He fit in well with a program that had seven walk-ons that season, and he consistently improved and moved into a position that would give him an opportunity to play in games.
'Everyone's goal is to move up the ladder,' Forehan-Kelly said. 'I wanted to be a player the coaches could depend on. I wanted to be a player they wanted to play, a player they needed to play. My role was to participate and contribute everything I could.'
Forehan-Kelly made an impact as a freshman, coming off the bench to sink two key free throws with only 22.7 seconds left in a 78-73 victory over Arizona State Feb. 27. As a sophomore, He proved his abilities when he scored a team-high 17 points at Oregon State, earning him a starting position in the next four games. Later in the year, he totaled 20 points at Arizona, hitting six three-pointers in the game.
'I knew I could make an impact, but we could all do it,' he said. 'All the walk-ons could play basketball. They didn't guard me at Oregon State. I was just hitting open shots.'
Forehan-Kelly's attitude and determination eventually earned him a scholarship before the start of this season. Upon learning about the honor, he remained humble, telling only his family of the news.
'I told my mother and my brother,' Forehan-Kelly said. 'It took a lot of the burden off of them. I didn't try to tell a lot of people, but then everybody found out.'
As a scholarship athlete, Forehan-Kelly maintains an intense focus and understanding of his role on the team.
'I want to fill in the gaps. Whatever we need to win, that's what I want to do,' Forehan-Kelly said. 'I want to help the team in scoring, rebounding, defending, taking charges and hitting threes.'
So far this season, Forehan-Kelly has succeeded in almost all of those areas. Through the first 11 games of the year, he was third on the squad in scoring with 8.5 ppg, including a high of 17 vs. Yale. Cal's career three-point percentage leader, Forehan-Kelly is making better than 44 percent of his attempts this season. He also has an astounding assist-to-turnover ratio of better than 7-to-1.
'I've learned that hard work pays off in the long run,' Forehan-Kelly said. 'I've learned to trust - trust in yourself, trust in your peers, trust in your family.'
For Forehan-Kelly, earning a scholarship at Cal has neither changed his aggressive attitude nor his high level of intensity. He maintains an infectious enthusiasm everyday at practice, playing just as hard, if not harder, than he did when he was a walk-on.
'Nothing has really changed. No one treats me different,' Forehan-Kelly said. 'I'm still a walk-on for life. I'm still a Raider for life.'
By Cassidy Raher