Losing Spencer Dinwiddie to the NBA draft last year was no doubt a challenge for the University of Colorado basketball team. But in an unexpected turn of events, it gained an efficient shooting guard in junior Josh Fortune after he decided to transfer to Boulder from Providence College.
On paper, Fortune’s decision may come as a surprise. As a consistent starter for the Friars, Fortune increased his shooting efficiency his sophomore year to average 8.4 points a game, 2.1 assists and 0.9 steals per matchup throughout the season. The strongest aspect of his game came behind the arc, where he shot 35 percent on the season.
“My role as a starter last year is that I was a shooter,” Fortune said. “I was expected to shoot the ball when I got it and play defense a lot, so that was my role. We had other players who could do certain things like handle the ball, and big men that were impactful.”
The Friars even finished the 2013 season with a 23-12 record, playing their way toward the Big East Conference Tournament title and an NCAA appearance. Despite Fortune’s success with the Friars last season, he said his decision to transfer was for personal reasons.
“I didn’t have a certain list [of schools]. I was just looking for a certain playing style, a certain coaching style and team and a family vibe. I found it here.”
Fortune, of course, was referring to head coach Tad Boyle’s up-tempo style of play.
“Coach Boyle is a great coach. He loves the fast-paced, get the ball, make some misses and push it up the floor – trying to attack the basket every time. As for the team, we all have guards who can do that, so it’s going to be fun playing for Coach Boyle next year.”
In the end, it was the players themselves who convinced Fortune to become a Buffalo.
“They made it easy to choose the school,” Fortune said. “They spoke to me a lot and Coach Boyle made it easy as well. We hung out a lot on my visit, and they told me the ins and outs of Colorado basketball, and campus and everything was great.”
Fortune comes to the Buffs from a very talented Big East Conference. Last year, teams like Providence, Villanova, Marquette and Georgetown headlined the conference. And the year before, it was even more competitive, featuring 2013 NCAA champion Louisville.
“The Big East was very competitive, especially my freshman year when we had all the teams in the Big East like Syracuse, UConn, and Louisville. It was very competitive. My last year, we had some teams come over like Creighton and Xavier, which made it even more competitive, because they’re very good teams,” Fortune said.
Fortune believes the high level of competition he endured in the past two seasons will only prepare him more for the equally high level of competition he expects to face in the Pac-12 next year. The level of play may be similar between the two conferences, but Fortune outlined a few key differences.
“The Big East is a different league than the Pac-12,” Fortune said. “I think the Pac-12 is more fast-paced, more guards and really involved in offense. The Big East is different in that it has bigger ‘bigs’ that impact the game as well.”
For now, Fortune will have to sit out during the 2014-15 season per NCAA transfer regulations. In the meantime, Fortune plans to use his talents to help his teammates during practice, as well as sharpen some points in his game.
“Just being a better decision maker on offense, ball screens, ball handling, continue to work on my shooting and defense, but to just be a provider for my teammates as well as put myself on offense,” Fortune said.
Next year, after he finishes his redshirt year with the Buffs, Fortune will add more depth and a much stronger shooting presence, which the team has been lacking so far this season. He will make life on the court much easier for Colorado as a consistent three-point shooter, something the Buffs have been lacking for years.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Alissa Noe at email@example.com.