Lucky number 13. Number one in Georgia Tech programs and number one in their hearts, is the man with the best sneakers in the ACC, James Banks III. Banks, a Georgia native, could be considered a later bloomer, but that may not actually be the case. He’s always been good, as reflected by his #64 ranking in the 2016 recruiting class. He was simply a victim of selecting the wrong school (Texas) and buried behind future NBA players Jarrett Allen and Mo Bamba.
Banks decided to transfer to Georgia Tech following his sophomore season in Austin. The La Lumiere product only averaged 6.8 minutes as a sophomore, and with Dylan Osetkowski and another one and done center coming to the program in Jaxson Hayes, it was time to make a move.
James’s application for immediate eligibility was approved the day of the second game of the Yellow Jacket’s season (way to go NCAA), he hopped a flight to Knoxville, strapped on the teal (we could call ’em blue, but, they’re teal) Adidas and went to work. In his first game he scored 5 points and snagged 7 rebounds in 16 minutes. He also fouled out, but the Yellow Jackets clearly had their Ben Lammers replacement.
Banks went on to lead the ACC in blocks last season at 78 total and was an ACC Defensive First Team selection. He logged seven double-doubles and his player efficiency rating of 19.8 ranked 18th in the league among players who registered at least 800 minutes. For the season, he averaged 10.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 2.5 blocks. His 56.4% field goal percentage was good for 9th best in the ACC and his true shooting percentage of 59.1% was second to only North Carolina State’s Markell Johnson among players returning for the 2019-20 season that played at least 800 minutes last season.
Banks will team with Michael Devoe (#20) and Jose Alvarado (#16) to create a formidable trio for the Yellow Jackets in 2019-20 in what could be their first tournament season since 2009-10. As paramount as his defense will be to their success, consistency on the offensive end has been James’s biggest issue. If he is able to fine tune that part of his game, he will be one of the most effective big men in the ACC during the upcoming season.