James Banks was Georgia High School Player of the year and McDonald High School All-American, to name just a couple of the accolades he achieved in high school. Then, while playing for UGA, he lettered all four years, was MVP in the East Regional Semi-final, and made a Final Four appearance. When he went pro, he played with the Continental Basketball League, and earned international fame when he played in France and Belgium.
Now he is back in Athens, coaching at Athens Academy and passing along his knowledge and love of the game to his student-athletes. We had a chance to talk with Coach Banks about his philosophy of coaching and why he has been around basketball for so many years.
“The first thing you have to do is love the kids,” says Coach Banks. “If they know and understand that, then you’ve got a great start. You find out what their goals and dreams are, try to get them to do the right thing, make sure they are respectful of their parents and understand what that means. Building relationships with these kids is such an incredible way to coach … the game of basketball is just the tool.”
Athens Academy is a college prep school, and Banks has been coaching there for about a decade. He decided to coach because he felt it was his “calling.” He knew it would allow him to be around the game he loves as well as make a different by influencing young people in a positive way.
“Basketball did a lot for me,” says Coach Banks. “Coaches stuck with me. I was fortunate to have loving parents, too … very fortunate to have those things in my life. Being a mentor to those students is a joy in my life. We want them to have a selfless attitude, to know that they are part of a team. We build relationships with each one individually, but the game is played as a team.”
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