Josh Fortune Discovers New Home In Buffaloes Hoops
BOULDER – Colorado is a long way from Josh Fortune’s boyhood home in Hampton, Va., but he feels he’s settled in the right place.
“I feel really good to be here; it was a long process actually getting here,” says Fortune, grabbing a volleyball to use as a footrest at the Coors Events Center. “Now that I’m finally here, it feels really good. I’m excited to start practicing with my teammates.”
Fortune transferred to the University of Colorado this summer after playing for two years at Providence College, a member of the Big East Conference. During his time at PC, Fortune grew into an efficient but still defensive shooting guard, getting most of his playing time during the 2014 Big East and NCAA Tournaments.
During his sophomore season with the Friars, Fortune averaged 33 minutes per game, averaging 8.4 points, 3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. He blossomed toward the end of the year, where he became a consistent starter and played an instrumental role in Providence winning the Big East.
After concluding his sophomore year, he announced that he would be transferring, with reports stating that he wanted to be closer to home.
“Actually, the home thing, I’m not sure where that came from,” Fortune explains. “I don’t have a problem with being away from home so coming out here wasn’t that hard of a change for me.”
With distance not a factor, Fortune announced in July that he would be taking his talents to Boulder. He cited team chemistry as a big factor in his decision, as well as the up-and-coming nature of the program.
“When I first came to visit I felt, like, the family vibe,” says Fortune. “All around, everyone got along, a good team, and a family vibe. It (the decision) was difficult at first but after coming out and meeting the coaches and the players it got kinda easy after that.”
Due to NCAA transfer eligibility rules, Fortune will not take the court for the Buffs in 2014-2015. However, that won’t deter him from helping the team in any way he can. In a few short months, he is already connecting with his teammates, forging those connections from the get-go.
“Some of the players like X-Talton (Xavier Talton), Josh Scott – I gelled with them and some of the other players,” Fortune explains. “We all hung out the first night I was here and we just bonded.”
That type of bonding will be important for the 6-5 guard, who will be in a strictly supporting role this year, playing in practice and providing words of encouragement from the bench. It won’t be the worst thing in the world, to spend a year training and working on certain aspects of the game. It paid dividends for CU alum Carlon Brown, who spent a full year working on his game and became one of the instrumental pieces in the Buffs’ 2011 run to the Pac-12 Conference’s postseason tournament championship.
In many ways Fortune resembles Brown, and not just based off of their identical heights. Both guards were pure scorers before they came to CU, providing jolts of energy either off the bench or in starting roles. Brown came to CU from Utah and spent his off year working on his defense and decision-making. This season, Fortune plans to do the same. Associate head coach Jean Priouleau sees some similarities in the two players, despite the fact that Brown came to CU as a junior and Fortune came as a sophomore.
“There’s a similarity in the maturity factor,” says Prioleau. “On the court, they’re different, but in terms of where they’re the same, in some aspects it’s the maturity and how they carry themselves.”
Fortune says Prioleau has been one of the most helpful coaches on CU’s staff, helping him acclimate to the Buffs’ style of play.
“Coach (Jean) Prioleau has given me some advice, some things that they do that maybe they did different at Providence,” says Fortune. “Little things, like how they guard ball screens or how to use ball screens – just little things like that.”
While the offensive style is a change, Prioleau doesn’t think it’s anything the sophomore can’t handle. “There’s nothing drastic that we’re doing,” Prioleau says. “It’s just making him understand what Colorado basketball is.”
On the mental side, Fortune admits that it will be tough not being able to play this season, but it’s a way for him to hone his game. While he won’t have the ability to influence games directly, his play in practice can elevate his teammates, while preparing him to step on the court next year.
“It’s gonna be tough, but I’m just gonna have to go into each practice and make my game better,” Fortune believes. “Just make sure that I’m mentally prepared for every practice and help my teammates get better for when it’s time to play.”
Fortune emphasizes staying positive. It won’t be easy to watch his team through the good and the inevitable bad and not be able to step on the court. But he is ready to face it and see the benefits down the road. Always humble, he gives a reminder that it’s a privilege to be on a basketball court. And even if he is only practicing, he is still doing what he enjoys.
“It’s not a given to be out here on the court playing,” he says. “So I take every day as a blessing to be just practicing and playing.”