McKenzie Forbes, former Folsom basketball star, is drafted by WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks

One of Sacramento region’s all-time high school basketball greats has officially turned pro.

McKenzie Forbes, a former Folsom High School basketball standout who dazzled fans with an arsenal of tricky ball-handling skills and sharp-shooting, was the No. 4 pick selected in the third round of the 2024 WNBA Draft by the Los Angeles Sparks on Monday.

Forbes was a four-year starter at Folsom and led them to a Sierra Foothill League championship and into the CIF Northern California Open Division playoffs her senior year. She averaged 19.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists a game in 2018. Forbes was named league MVP three times.

The Folsom Bulldogs’ McKenzie Forbes (0) shoots against the St. Mary’s Rams in 2018.
The Folsom Bulldogs’ McKenzie Forbes (0) shoots against the St. Mary’s Rams in 2018.

Her play helped her earn many honors, including an invitation to the McDonald’s All-American Showcase, becoming just the third female player from the Sacramento region to participate. She even took home the three-point crown that weekend in Atlanta.

Her accomplishments led her to playing college basketball where she carved out a stellar playing career at UC Berekley, Harvard and USC. This season she helped the Trojans win the Pac-12 Tournament and was awarded tournament MVP. In her senior season, Forbes

averaged 14.3 points a game on 37% three-point shooting. The team advanced to the NCAA Women’s Tournament Elite Eight.

Now, the 6-foot guard, who can play versatile at forward, is prepping to live out her dream of playing in the WNBA. She joins draft selections Cameron Brink of Stanford and Rickea Jackson of Tennessee as the Sparks’ incoming rookie class.

“(I’m) super blessed, just excited to be here with an incredible organization that has a lot of history and wins championships,” Forbes said during a team news conference introducing the draftees. “I just want to thank my family, my team this past year and my staff and everyone who’s helped me get to this point. (It’s) just a dream come true to be here and to be able to stay in L.A. and play in front of a lot of the fan that I played in front of this year. Just super blessed and thankful to the organization.”

Family support

Her father, Sterling Forbes Jr., could not be more proud of his daughter, he told The Sacramento Bee.

“When you have kids, you always want them to have success and no matter what it is they’re trying to do or trying to accomplish,” Forbes said of his daughter McKenzie’s accomplishment. “For us or for me and my wife, we’re just overjoyed with happiness for her to get that opportunity to do what she’s loved doing since she was a kid.”

McKenzie comes from a basketball family.

Her grandfather, Sterling Forbes, was a basketball All-American at Pepperdine, drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers and eventually joined the Harlem Globetrotters in the early 1960s.

McKenzie’s dad, Sterling Jr., played at Texas State before following in his dad’s footsteps playing 10 years with the Globetrotters. His nickname was “Smooth” for his ball wizardry. He followed that with an additional couple of years overseas in Argentina. His wife, Sasha, didn’t play herself, but coached their daughter when she was a little girl becoming introduced to basketball.

McKenzie’s parents were the ones who put the basketball in her hands.

McKenzie grew up as the youngest of four children. She has three older brothers, Marcus, Max and Mason, who recently played at Saint Mary’s College.

Sterling said, her brothers didn’t show her mercy because she was their baby sis. She really had to work hard to be successful, he said.

“It just helped her as far as being aggressive and not backing down being ready to play at a high level because she’s had that pressure and she’s had that with her older brothers who all played basketball as well throughout high school and in college.”

At an early age, McKenzie showed promise and that she had the opportunity to be really good, and Sterling saw that.

“She had a passion for it and anything I said she needed to work on, she would go out and work on it. I didn’t have to sit there and watch…she did it all on her own. She wanted to be good,” Forbes said.

The WNBA was always a goal for McKenzie, Sterling said. He can recall them going to Sacramento Monarchs games and when she first met Ruthie Bolton.

Three-year-old McKenzie Forbes hugs Sacramento Monarchs legend Ruthie Bolton.
Three-year-old McKenzie Forbes hugs Sacramento Monarchs legend Ruthie Bolton.

“We would take her to games, she would meet players and she would learn by watching what they were doing on the court,” Sterling said. “She would go out there and try to implement it and things like that.”

McKenzie earned many honors playing basketball including becoming The Bee’s Player of the Year in 2018 and named to The Bee’s All-Decade team, multiple MVP awards, a 2018 McDonald’s All-American, a 2018 Jordan Brand All-American and invitations to tryout for Team USA.

Now, McKenzie will be preparing to start her professional career with the Sparks.

Their first preseason game is May 5 against the Seattle Storm in Los Angeles. Their regular season debuts May 15 at home against the Atlanta Dream.