By Gary Parrish
Steve Forbes is one of the Tennessee assistants who lost his job last year.
It was a low point.
A bad time.
But Forbes didn't cave under the weight of the show-cause penalties placed upon he and his colleagues by the NCAA. He didn't disappear from the world of basketball. He instead accepted the head coaching position at Northwest Florida State, hired fellow former Tennessee assistants Jason Shay and Brooks Savage, and now they have a team that's undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the latest National Junior College Athletic Association poll.
"We're having a lot of fun," Forbes told CBSSports.com on Tuesday, one day after his team improved to 17-0 with a 69-56 win at No. 4 Chipola. "Jason, Brooks and I spent a lot of time together at Tennessee, and now we're having a lot of fun coaching together down here."
The Tennessee connection doesn't stop there.
Northwest Florida State's leading scorer is Chris Jones -- a Memphis product whom Forbes initially recruited to Tennessee. Jones signed with the Vols out of high school but did not qualify academically and committed to Northwest Florida State within days of Forbes accepting the job. The 5-foot-9 point guard is now averaging 17 points per game. He's on his way to becoming the National Junior College Player of the Year as a freshman.
"Chris Jones, in my opinion, is the best player in junior college," Forbes said. "UConn, Louisville and Seton Hall are the most recent calls I've received about him, so he'll have good schools to pick from. In my mind, he can play anywhere."
Northwest Florida State's next game is Saturday at Pensacola State.
A win there and the Raiders will be 18-0 and one step closer to an undefeated season.
Yes, Forbes said, that's among the stated goals for this team.
They've talked about it openly and honestly.
"I think it's something you have to address because it's the white elephant in the room," Forbes said. "If you don't talk about it they won't know how to handle it, so we talked about it yesterday when the new poll came out and we were ranked No. 1. I told them to be proud of the ranking and the record, and to embrace it. But I also told them to understand that we're now gonna take everybody's best shot."