Oklahoma State’s 92-91 loss to Michigan in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament not only ended the Cowboys’ season, it ended the careers of two seniors, Phil Forte III and Leyton Hammonds.
He joined Oklahoma State in 2012 from Flower Mound, Texas with his high school teammate Marcus Smart (did you know they were friends?). While Smart left for the NBA after two season, Forte remained.
He became a leader for the team and one of it’s most important players.
He was also took over the role of Perry Ellis this year as the butt of the “how long has he been here” jokes.
Oklahoma State loses, bringing Phil Forte's 37 year career to an end.— Not Jerry Tipton (@NotJerryTipton) March 17, 2017
And with that, Phil Forte's 18 year career at Oklahoma State comes to an end. He was so fun to watch. #Salute— Andrew Curtis (@AndrewCurtis24) March 17, 2017
Phil Forte is an 11th year senior— Dylan Greene (@Dylan_Greene32) March 17, 2017
What was to be his last year, ended with an injury, allowing him one more season this year. Forte did not disappoint.
This season he averaged career highs in rebounds (2.6), free-throw percentage (.955), three-point shooting percentage (.417), and minutes (31.1). He also contributed 13.3 points this year.
His biggest moment came against Arkansas, when he passed Keiton Page to become the all-time three point career leader.
The Shot! All time leading 3 pointers at OSU! pic.twitter.com/WBTGQWLIfE— Braden Stuart (@BradenGStuart) January 28, 2017
Forte and Paige, who is now assistant coach for Oklahoma State, were often compared for their similar stature and games. Two short white guys who could hit a shot from Edmond.
Forte will end his career with 328 total three-pointers made, and sixth on Oklahoma State’s all-time scoring list with 1,734 total points.
So many people to thank! Couldn't have asked for a better 5 years. Oklahoma State is a special place and always will be to me. #Gopokes— Phil Forte (@PhilForte13) March 17, 2017
Forward Leyton Hammonds joined the Cowboys in 2013 from North Richmond Hills, Texas. He spent his first two years as a role player, though he did have some big moments. That includes at Baylor his freshman year when he stole an inbounds pass and hit a three to send the game into overtime.
The team lost, but still.
His junior season is when Hammonds became a force for the Cowboys. He nearly tripled his minutes and jumped from averaging 2.3 points per game to 10.6. More impressively, his shooting percentages went up, even with increased usage.
While Hammonds saw his minutes slightly decline this year, he was still a valuable member of the team who saw his best stretch come at the end. He scored double digits in six of OSU’s final nine games, including a 21-point performance in a win at TCU.
I just want to thank every single OSU fan on this planet! It has been a blessing to be apart of this great tradition #LoyalAndTrue pic.twitter.com/82x5mIcxDw— Leyton Hammonds (@Leyfro) March 5, 2017
I think (now former) Head Coach Brad Underwood summed it up best when speaking to the team after Friday’s loss.
“I’m happy that you were part of the team that I coached. I’m not happy I’m ecstatic... and what you’ve done for this program will long, long be more than anything you’ve done in uniform. For that I say thank you.”
This group of Cowboys fought till the bitter end. Here's what @OSUCoachBrad said to his team in the locker room after the game. #okstate pic.twitter.com/D0XmazP18g— Cowboy Basketball (@OSUMBB) March 17, 2017
Thank you Phil. Thank you Leyton.