Georgia Tech received a crucial break from the NCAA this afternoon with the announcement that transfer forward/center James Banks, a former Texas Longhorn who transferred to the Flats during the offseason, has been granted immediate eligibility.
In the absence of a waiver, Banks would have been forced to sit out the entire 2018 season as a redshirt. Instead, he will be the unquestioned best frontcourt player for the Jackets in what will be an informative year about head coach Josh Pastner’s ongoing rebuild. Coming in at 6-foot-8 and 243 pounds (though he was listed at 6-foot-10 while at Texas), Banks has the size and skill that Tech was lacking on the inside with the frontcourt rotation of A.D. Gueye, Evan Cole, Moses Wright, and Sylvester Ogbonda. He should usurp Gueye as the starter at center as early as tonight, assuming he makes it to Knoxville in time for the 9:00pm tipoff. Though I did list Moses Wright and Evan Cole as fellow forwards, Banks will best be used at center and will therefore put the biggest dent in the playing time of Ogbonda and Gueye this season.
It’s hard to overstate how important this news is for Pastner and the Yellow Jackets. The team already has a competitive backcourt anchored by Jose Alvarado, Shembari Phillips, and Mike Devoe, but Banks will work wonders for the foul-prone and inexperienced frontcourt. He gives you a shot at defending the ACC’s elite centers and will allow the Jackets to space the floor much more effectively than they could otherwise.
Before his college days, Banks was a four-star recruit out of the Atlanta area. He chose Texas over offers from Georgetown, Syracuse, and most of the SEC as the seventh-ranked center from the class of 2016. He has two seasons of eligibility remaining.