Jan. 19, 2005
Sometimes a college basketball player simply loses track of the task at hand. He loses focus on the college game and forgets to take care of the jersey he's wearing now.
Sure, it's easy to understand the goal of making the big dollars and playing at the next level. But if you don't live up to your collegiate expectations, the NBA may become a faint hope.
Just look at what happened to Sean Banks of Memphis. Banks has become an academic casualty, sidelined for the second semester. It's a shame that he became so concerned with his future in the NBA that he didn't stay focused on his college challenges.
A 6-foot-8 sophomore forward from Englewood, N.J., Banks was one of America's premier diaper dandies a year ago. In fact, ESPN.com named him the best freshman in the nation last season, when he averaged 17.4 points and 6.5 rebounds while shooting 43 percent from the field.
Entering 2004-05, Banks was one of the best players in Conference USA and made the preseason all-conference first team.
But things didn't go well for Mr. Banks this season. Actually, it started in the offseason when he failed to show up for a tryout with a national all-star team. Then he had problems on the court, where he didn't live up to his ability. Banks wasn't playing as a team member, and he was shooting poorly (14.5 ppg on 34.7 percent from the field).
Coach John Calipari was so optimistic about the Tigers before the season began. Unfortunately for him, the team has been erratic. Just look at last week's win over Marquette, followed by a stunning loss to TCU.
ESPN.com named Banks the best freshman in the nation last season.
While there is still time for Banks to turn things around, it looks like he won't do it at Memphis. Indications are that Banks will enter the NBA draft in June rather than try to regain his college eligibility.
It's a sad story. Hopefully other players can learn from Banks' situation -- and keep their focus and stay eligible for their respective colleges.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.