2022 prospect Oakland Fort and his family had bounced around the country between Texas, Kansas, and South Carolina before settling into Arizona, where Fort currently stars at Sunnyslope High School. After a good showing at the recent Arizona Border League on national television, it’s evident Fort has continued to develop his game on and off the court throughout the pandemic. As a multi-sport athlete growing up (football, track & field, baseball, in addition to basketball), it’s easy to see certain traits of those sports manifest themselves in his game. Undersized by point guard standards but with a self-reported 48” vertical, Fort brings athleticism, toughness, shot making, and playmaking to any roster.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Fort discusses his athletic background and playing style, studying Dame and Kemba, the latest with his current college recruitment, and more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2022 prospect Oakland Fort, from Phoenix, Arizona:
Pro Insight: Tell us about your background.
Oakland Fort: I was born in Texas, but shortly moved to South Carolina and lived there for about seven or eight years. Then we moved to Kansas for about three years and then moved here [Arizona]. This will definitely be our final destination — just bought a house a couple years ago so we’ll be here for good. I have two sisters and most of my family is from the midwest like Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma area, but we have a few relatives out here in Arizona.
PI: Any other athletes in the family?
OF: My dad played basketball at Missouri. My uncle played football. One of my grandma’s brothers played in the NFL, he went to University of Oklahoma. When I was younger I used to love football — didn’t really like basketball — but then I got two hip surgeries that ended my football run so I started focusing on basketball. I also ran track and field and played baseball, but those were kind of side things. My main sports were basketball and football.
PI: What are the details of the hip surgeries?
OF: Both were football injuries: my first one was back in Kansas. I want to say it was fiftth grade, I had a “skiffy” [Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis (SCFE)] done on my left hip. They [doctors] told me that with my left hip hurt, my right hip could get hurt in the future due to compensating for the injured one. They were like, “we could either get the surgery done with the left hip and put the screw in now or you guys can wait and see if it does/doesn’t happen and we’ll have to get the surgery later.” We ended up not doing the surgery, we moved to Arizona and I was still playing football. During the 6th-7th grade summer I had to get my second hip surgery because I had a skiffy in my right hip.
PI: How are your hips feeling now?
OF: They feel fine now, they might get a little stiff sometimes, but I stretch out my hip flexors. When the surgeries first happened I felt it on defense, I didn’t feel as laterally quick or as fast, but that was in the past and my body has matured a little more. I feel fine now.
PI: Describe your biggest strengths on the basketball court.
OF: I’d say my biggest strength is definitely slashing, just getting in the paint and finishing myself or getting a shot for one of my teammates. The thing I’m trying to improve is my shooting, obviously — some games I’m hitting and others I’m not — just trying to become more consistent. My main strength is definitely getting to the basket and dropping it off to one of my teammates or kicking it out or just finishing on my own.
PI: What are some other improvement areas?
OF: My shot and pace off ball screens. Those are the two main things I’ve been working on with Coach Devin, my trainer from Team Harden. I worked with him all summer on pace, coming off certain screens, stop-and-pop, and my 3 ball. That’s really what we worked on all summer.
PI: Anything else you’re trying to work on with your shot?
OF: Just consistency. First game Friday I couldn’t hit a thing: I was air-balling, struggling, and got a little upset, but I know you got to keep a level head and keep shooting. Saturday I hit a couple more, but I was still missing and wasn’t really satisfied with my performance. Coming into today’s game I knew I had to get my shot right and get going early. So just consistency.
PI: What are some underrated aspects of your game?
OF: My coach says I don’t play defense [laughs], you can always get better at defense, you always have room to improve in any aspect of the game. But my defense and I feel like rebounding even though I’m an undersized guard. When I do get in there I know I can rebound.
PI: You’re pretty bouncy — what’s your vertical?
OF: So I’ve never tested my vertical until quarantine, we had all of this time off so my body felt rested. I just started working out with my strength coach, his name is Nick up at Mach 1 Sports Performance. We started lifting and getting my strength right as well as certain parts of my game right. He basically asked me, “do you want to get your vertical tested?” and I was like, “sure” because I had never done it. I knew I could jump high, but I’d never tested my actual vertical. So basically, we had a little pre-lift then I had a training workout, just light and going through certain details in the game. Afterwards we tested my vertical and he just let me jump, and honestly I surprised myself because I measured at a 48.5” vertical. Running, but still.
PI: What’s the current update with your recruitment? Anyone been on you the hardest?
OF: Hardest, definitely NAU, Duquesne, Rice, UC-Riverside — those are the main schools. I’ve already picked up an offer from NAU so I just stay in touch with certain coaches there. Then I stay in touch with a couple guys from Duquesne, actually one of their guys I stay in touch with went to Sunnyslope, so there’s a connection there. Then Rice and UC-Riverside have also been talking to me.
PI: Any other additional schools showing interest?
OF: Along with NAU, Duquesne is really interested in me, Rice, UC-Riverside, and then Boise State has shown some interest too. So those are the schools that have really taken a liking to me.
PI: What are you looking for in a school?
OF: Honestly, I’m still trying to decide on the closeness aspect, like if I want to be close to family or if I don’t. I do have family across the country, midwest, east coast, west coast, so I still need to figure that out. Connection with the coaches of course, the brotherly love teammates-wise, the way the team is run, the system, and basically just how I’m going to like it.
PI: What’s your biggest passion outside of basketball?
OF: I watch a lot of highlights, I love watching highlights. I like anime. Naruto, that’s where it’s at [laughs]. I love hanging out with my friends and family. I like to eat, Chick-fil-A is my joint. Chick-fil-A and Naruto, that’s it.
PI: Do you model your game after anybody?
OF: Kemba [Walker] and Damian [Lillard]. I don’t model them, but those are the two guys where if I’m going to watch something like to study the game then I’m going to watch those two. Especially Kemba. I didn’t really watch him when he was on the Hornets, but the Celtics are my NBA team so he joined the Celtics so I was like okay I’m going to watch him a little more. I didn’t even realize he was like 6’0” or even a little shorter than that so he's similar to me. So I can watch him, his pace, his shot, how he gets open, how he creates space and all that. I really like watching Kemba.
PI: What are your current measurements?
OF: Height, between 5’9”- 5’10”. Wingspan, I’m not sure. And weight I’m about 160 pounds. Trying to get up there. We lift about three times per week. Those are my measurements as of now.
PI: If you had four words to describe yourself, what would those four words be?
OF: Calm. Chill. Funny. Determined.