Kaleb Banks is still getting a feel for what it means to be the guy everyone’s watching every time he’s on the floor.
The 6-foot-8, 215-pound wing from Fayette County High School in Fayetteville, Ga., wasn’t even a top-150 player a year ago in the 247Sports.com composite rankings for the Class of 2022, and he plays travel ball for the vaunted Atlanta Celtics program so he’s surrounded by other high-major talent.
However, he dominated in high school this season, earning Georgia Class 4A Region 5 Player of the Year honors and leading Fayette County to the Class 4A state title game, and talent evaluators noticed. The four-star recruit has now broken into the top 100 at No. 93 in the Class of 2022, earning scholarship offers from a reported seven high-major programs including Indiana. If he can embrace that elevated status he has a chance to go even higher.
“I want to see him understand his potential,” said Greg Robinson, Banks’ coach with the Atlanta Celtics 17U team. “I want him to believe in him the way that we believe in him. He’s new to this top-tier thing. He’s been playing ball for a while, but a lot of people didn’t know him early on. It’s new. It’s an added responsibility for him. I think he’s up for it. He’s just getting used to it and coming into his own.”
There’s not necessarily a glaring flaw to Banks’ game, Robinson said, he simply has to get used to having more riding on him and knowing that he’ll be targeted every time out and that every team he plays for — the Celtics, Fayette County and whatever college program he ends up picking — will need him to produce every night.
It’s something he says he’s ready for.
“It’s just being consistent every night,” Banks told The Daily Hoosier. “Showing up every night. Being more of a dog. Just things like that. Being ready for the competition. I know people are going to come for me. People are going to feel like they have something to prove when they play against me. Just being ready for that, handling my own end and just outworking my opponent and wanting it more.”
If Banks is the guy on the floor who wants it the most, he’s hard to stop because he has a remarkably fluid game for a player his size.
He’s listed as a power forward on most recruiting websites and he could certainly function as a stretch-four in four-out, one-in offenses similar to the one newly-hired Indiana coach Mike Woodson plans to bring to Bloomington. But in Fayette County’s offense, he functions as more of a shooting guard, and even on a team that plays bigger he can handle the 2 or the 3. He not only has range that goes out to the 3-point arc, he can bring the ball up, break defenses down off the dribble and find teammates with the pass off the drive. He can finish at the rim and he has a strong mid-range game. With all of those pieces put together, he averaged 23.5 points per game this past season at Fayette County.
“He’s got an ability to score the ball at all three levels,” Robinson said. “Create his own shot and be able to flow athletically. His handle is really a work in progress. He started developing it last summer and throughout the school year he got so comfortable with it. We put a lot of responsibility on him as a creator for our team this summer. He’s really flourishing in that role. We like his progress for sure. I think he’s better at being patient. Last year he was really quick. Now we’re getting him to slow down, use his talents and a little more of his IQ. ”
Defensively, he can handle multiple positions thanks in large part to a 7-2 wingspan. He’s generally sticking on wings at this point, but he’s improving in his ability to guard ball handlers.
“I’m just working on rotations and when to be where,” Banks said. “But I can switch off multiple positions. I feel like I can guard people smaller than me and people that are taller than me and stronger than me. I have a long wingspan so that helps a lot, but just being quicker on my feet and staying in front of my man.”
Banks plans on taking his time with a college decision and taking several visits this summer. By the end of it, he should have a much longer list than he currently does — as it stands, Indiana, Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State and Xavier have offered. However, he is a fan of what he’s heard from Indiana. He has a connection with Yasir Rosemond, himself an Atlanta native, and he likes what he’s heard from Mike Woodson.
“I like Coach Woodson and his NBA background,” Banks said. “I like Indiana as a whole. I like the fans. I like the tradition. It’s just a good basketball school. I feel like it fits me well. At the rate the game is going, with the versatility I bring to the table, it seems like what this guy is looking for.”
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