Center James Banks, the No. 56 player in the ESPN 100 for 2016 and the sixth-ranked center in the country, will attend Texas.
Banks — Shaka Smart’s first ESPN 100 pickup for 2016 — picked the Longhorns over Georgetown, Illinois, Vanderbilt and Purdue. The news was earlier reported by Scout.com.
“I felt like Texas made me such a priority,” Banks told ESPN. “They were at all my games during the live period and on the first day of the contact period I had a 6 a.m. workout — Coach Smart and assistant coach Mike Morrell were there at 5:30 a.m.
“Coach Smart is a genuine person and all the players I spoke with were real supportive of him. I believe he will be there for me as a coach and as a person.”
The 6-foot-11 Banks, who transferred over the summer from Mount Vernon Christian (Georgia) to La Lumiere (Indiana), averaged 23 points and 14 rebounds per game in 2014-15.
Texas will lose frontcourt players Cameron Ridley, Prince Ibeh and Connor Lammert after 2015-16, so Banks was a vital pickup. He also fits the style Smart wants to play at Texas, which is to press and pressure opponents.
“I really need to get stronger for the physical play of the Big 12,” Banks said. “When I arrive on campus next year I am going to concentrate on the things that don’t show up in the stat sheet like hustle, running the floor hard and talking on defense.”
Banks joins three-star shooting guard Jacob Young in the Longhorns’ 2016 class. Smart previously attracted a commitment from 2015 ESPN 100 wing Tevin Mack, who originally committed to the Smart at VCU but was granted a release and chose Texas.
Texas could have up to six scholarships available next season, and is expected to turn its attention next to two in-state ESPN 100 prospects: shooting guard Andrew Jones (No. 35) and center Jarrett Allen (No. 19).