On the first day of LSU women’s basketball practice last year, blockbuster recruit Krystal Forthan sat behind a microphone answering questions for a room of reporters.
Forthan had signed with the Lady Tigers as the No. 5 prospect in the nation, joining Seimone Augustus, Sylvia Fowles and Allison Hightower among the most decorated signees in program history.
Answering questions that day, Forthan looked like she’d be the face of LSU women’s basketball for seasons to come.
A year later, as the Lady Tigers once again opened practice Tuesday afternoon, Forthan and her shy smile were nowhere to be found.
LSU announced in May that Forthan had left the team, taking with her the 5.7 points and 3.1 rebounds she averaged as a freshman.
“I was very surprised,” LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said. “But at the end of the day, we just want the best for her.”
Even Forthan seems to be struggling with what may be best for her.
After leaving LSU, she transferred to West Virginia, where the athletic, 6-foot-4 forward was expected to sit out this season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules. But after only a couple of weeks at the Big 12 school, Forthan told her coach she was giving up basketball to focus on a professional modeling career.
Forthan has now popped up on the University of Utah roster, but her status with the Utes is unclear.
Utah spokesperson Brooke Frederickson said only that Forthan is expected to redshirt this season. She would not say whether she was enrolled at Utah or if she has practiced with the team.
“I know she’s battled and been back and forth with what she wants to do,” Caldwell said. “The only thing I can tell her is to commit to one thing and to stay with it. When you’re non-committal, you let certain people or certain things come in and change your outlook.”
Life on the move is nothing new for Forthan.
After averaging 15.1 points as a freshman at Grant High in her native Portland, Ore., she played the following season at Jefferson High across town. The summer before her junior year, she left home to live with her AAU coach in Georgetown, Texas, where the governing body of Texas high-school sports ruled her ineligible for one year.
Caldwell made it clear the Lady Tigers aren’t looking back. She indicated the loss of Forthan has helped elevate the play of her erstwhile teammates and could ultimately make the Lady Tigers a stronger overall outfit.
But we’ll always be left to wonder if Forthan could have matched the production of those great LSU recruits who came before her.
In the final game of the season last year, a 90-80 loss to Penn State in the second round of the NCAA tournament, Forthan scored 15 points and grabbed five rebounds in only 15 minutes of action.
That performance seemed like a harbinger of great things to come. Certainly not a swan song.
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