It would be difficult to find a player with more energy and a better motor than Arkansas point guard Courtney Fortson. As one of the more exciting players in the country, Fortson plays an attacking style of basketball, while displaying a never back down attitude. With that said, his biggest strength could be his biggest weakness as he tends to play out of control as a result of his blazing speed failing to recognize good vs. bad opportunities from time to time. That immaturity, coupled with poor decision making skills are expected of most freshmen, which means this season, Razorback nation will be anticipating a more polished and seasoned point guard leading their squad.
In order to be that player, Fortson will have to learn how to pick his spots while staying true to his aggressive nature. He plays tough and feisty, going every possession at 100%. At only 510, Fortson is a very good athlete with tremendous upper body strength.
His reactionary skills are rather impressive as well, routinely tracking down loose balls or getting into passing lanes which often results in him getting to the basket by leading a one man fast break. The southpaw uses hesitation moves, head and shoulder fakes off the bounce, and changes direction at the drop of a dime. He does a good job at keeping his dribble alive, but does get into trouble when he over dribbles, resulting in stagnant offensive possessions.
Getting to the basket for Fortson was one thing, but converting on those chances was another story. On one side, Fortson could be electric in the open court, showing a flare for the spectacular, making shots from impossible angles against players a foot taller than him. Unfortunately for Fortson though, shots like that were hardly the norm, as he had a tendency to over commit himself forcing up tough looks on a nightly basis. Consequently, Fortson shot a modest 49.2% on shots at the basket last season. In order to increase that percentage, hell have to learn how to be more comfortable operating from 5 to 10 feet out shooting runners and tear drops to counter interior defenses. This issue will only be compounded at the professional level, as his severe lack of size will be exposed far more often against the higher quality big men hes bound to face.
The lack of perimeter help last season may have contributed to his questionable shot selection, as playing for a team that struggled so badly after a great start must have been frustrating for the freshman. Despite the limited support, Fortson managed to fill up the stat sheet, averaging 14.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists (7th in the country) impressive numbers for any player let alone one in his first season. The one statistical category however which was not all that impressive was that of his turnovers.
Fortson was number one in the country last season in turnovers per game, coughing it up 4.4 times every night he took the court. Those numbers are consistent with his go-go style of play and out of control fashion. He handled the ball often and was responsible for nearly a quarter of his teams possessions, but turning it over on 26% of his possessions is inexcusable. Due to his high assist numbers, Fortson still managed to have a decent 1.34 assist to turnover ratio. That ratio will surely rise with a greater emphasis on valuing the ball.
Fortsons shooting is another area that can use some improvement. His adjusted FG% on catch and shoot opportunities was only 36% last season, showing a slow release, a flat arc and an inconsistency in his elevation. Off the dribble, he appeared to be a bit more comfortable, but his efficiency was still average, shooting an adjusted FG% of 36.2%. Its not out of the question to see him improve his percentages as he has a nice stroke and the confidence to go with it, but his shot selection and few quirks must get better.
On the defensive end, Fortson uses his never ending energy to harass the opposing point guards. He puts a lot of pressure on the ball and has great lateral speed along with a strong frame, making him a difficult player to beat off the dribble. Off the ball, hes very bouncy and aware of whats going on, showing good anticipation skills and active hands, almost always making his presence felt. He does gamble on occasion which puts him out of position, but you can almost live with that because of how hard he plays and his great knack for getting the ball, coming up with over a steal a game.
Hi 5.5 rebounds a game are worth mentioning again, considering the fact that he was 8th in the nation in that category amongst all point guards. Hes great at chasing down long boards and is not afraid to mix it up inside with the bigger players.
Fortson is quite a bit older than your typical college sophomore, turning 22 in June, which puts him at the same age as many seniors. His off court actions are something to keep an eye on, as he was suspended indefinitely last season for reportedly being somewhat of a malcontent. Nonetheless, Fortson will hopefully be making more news this year for his on the court actions with hopes of building off his superb freshman season while making Arkansas competitive in the SEC.