BRUNSWICK — Former Gazette boys basketball MVP Pat Forsythe is coming home.
The 6-foot-11 center was officially released from his scholarship by West Virginia University on Monday, allowing him to enroll at the University of Akron on Aug. 1.
Forsythe will continue his college basketball career with the Zips, but must sit out the 2012-13 season under NCAA Division I transfer rules. The Brunswick native will have three years of eligibility remaining.
“My first official college visit was actually at Akron — before I committed to WVU — so I knew it was the right place for me,” Forsythe said between afternoon workouts at Brunswick High.
“I really wanted to be closer to my family and I felt very comfortable with Coach (Keith) Dambrot and his staff. I’m excited to get started there and to be back home.”
Forsythe appeared in seven games as a freshman with the Mountaineers, averaging 2.1 points and 3.4 rebounds before suffering a season-ending stress fracture in his right ankle. The 240-pound pivot grabbed seven rebounds against Alcorn State, while his scoring high was four points, set against Akron and Mississippi State.
As a result of the injury, Forsythe was granted a medical hardship waiver by the Big East Conference for a fifth season of eligibility at West Virginia. That status, however, will not transfer with him to the Zips.
Nor will Forsythe’s scholarship, as the 19-year-old sports management major will be paying for his studies during his initial season at Akron. He carried a 3.1 grade point average at West Virginia, making him a prime candidate to be back on scholarship in the fall of 2013 with the Zips.
“Obviously, Pat had offers from many other universities, but this decision really wasn’t about basketball,” Blue Devils coach Joe Mackey said of his one-time franchise player. “At this point, he just needs to be closer to his dad (Patrick), who is legally blind, and his sight has worsened in the past year. Although he can’t see a whole lot, he loves coming to his son’s games.
“Pat feels like his dad has been there for him his whole life, and it’s time to repay the favor a little bit.”
Mackey and Forsythe both praised Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins for his handling of the situation, along with West Virginia’s medical and training staff for their physical rehabilitation program.
Though he will formally join the Zips late next week, Forsythe must return to Morgantown, W.V. at least one more time. He was arrested on charges of using stolen debit cards in March — being arraigned and released on a $2,500 bond — and has a court date in October.
“We’ve been very upfront with Akron about the bad decisions that Pat made,” Mackey said. “Everything should be cleared up in the fall, and he can move on with his life and his studies.”
In the meantime, Forsythe will be permitted to use the Zips’ athletic facilities while he becomes familiar with Dambrot’s style of play.
“I believe their offensive and defensive systems are better fits for me,” he said. “West Virginia ran more of a motion offense where I was on the perimeter, but at Akron, I’ll have my back to the basket a lot and be able to use my post moves. I feel like that’s where I can help the team the most on the court.”
Forsythe was named the 2011 Medina County MVP after averaging 22.5 points, 12.6 rebounds and 6.1 blocked shots at Brunswick. He also was a unanimous choice as the All-Northeast Inland District Division I Player of the Year and earned All-Ohio first team honors.
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com