Harvard adds Cal transfer McKenzie Forbes

The former top-100 recruit averaged 5.3 points per game as a freshman at Cal

On May 18, the Harvard women’s basketball team announced the addition of UC Berkeley transfer McKenzie Forbes. Forbes, a 6-foot guard from Folsom, California, played one season with the Golden Bears in 2018-19 and will join Harvard as a sophomore.

“We are excited to welcome McKenzie to our program,” Harvard head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said in the announcement. “She had an incredible high school career … and will bring some PAC-12 experience to the Ivy League. She has an outstanding all-around game as well as the ability to score on all three levels. We are very excited about what we think McKenzie can accomplish.”

Forbes was a McDonald’s All-American in high school and won the 2018 McDonald’s All-American three-point contest. She was ranked 35th by HoopGurlz and 22nd by Prospects Nation coming out of high school, making her one of the highest-rated recruits an Ivy League school has ever signed.

In her lone season at Cal, Forbes played in all 33 games off the bench, averaging 5.3 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 1.4 assists in just under 17 minutes per game. She won one Pac-12 Freshman of the Week award and was an honorable mention on the league’s All-Freshman Team. Coincidentally, she scored a career-high 22 points, including six 3-pointers, against Harvard in December 2018.

Six months later, after head coach Lindsay Gottlieb left to take a job with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Forbes announced that she had asked for her release “to explore my options.” Gottlieb’s replacement, former Cal assistant coach Charmin Smith, tried to retain Forbes, but Forbes was not on the roster in 2019-20 as the Golden Bears struggled to a 12-19 record.

By choosing Harvard, Forbes reunites with her brother Mason, a rising junior on the men’s basketball team. She is set to be the third Forbes sibling to earn a Harvard degree, following Mason and older brother Marcus, who earned a master’s in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2019.

Forbes is also following in the footsteps of her father and grandfather, both of whom played collegiately and then for the Harlem Globetrotters. Her grandfather, Sterling Forbes, was selected in the 1960 NBA Draft by the Minneapolis Lakers.

Forbes will look to bolster a Crimson team that went 15-12 in 2019-20, including 6-8 in conference play. Harvard will have to replace two seniors off of last year’s roster, Jeannie Boehm and Mackenzie Barta, who each averaged over 30 minutes per game and were the team’s second- and third-leading scorers. Forbes will be the team’s sixth newcomer in 2020-21, joining a five-player freshman class that includes HoopGurlz #42 prospect Harmoni Turner.

With the competition in the Ivy League getting stronger every year, the reinforcements couldn’t come at a better time for Delaney-Smith. In addition, Harvard will host the 2021 Ivy League men’s and women’s basketball tournaments after the coronavirus canceled the 2020 tournaments in Cambridge. Keep an eye on Forbes and the Crimson, as they could make some noise in Lavietes Pavilion next March.

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