Kaleb Banks' 'big wing' skillset could help him see the court early

Kaleb Banks’ ‘big wing’ skillset could help him see the court early

When it comes to four-star incoming freshman Caleb BanksIndiana head coach Mike Woodson wants to get one thing straight: “Everybody thinks Kaleb was just a low post (guy), he’s not a low post guy. He can post, but he makes plays out on the floor with the basketball. “

At 6-foot-8 and 200 pounds, Banks looks the part of a prototypical power forward in college basketball, especially as he continues to put on weight. However, Woodson doesn’t want to pigeonhole the Georgia native in that way, instead of referring to him as a “wing” rather than merely a low-post player.

For a freshman who has only been on campus for just over two weeks, it’s quite the vote of confidence to hear such an adamant statement from the head coach. That is, while some Indiana fans might already have a pre-conceived notion that Banks’ development path resides in or near the paint, those within the program don’t necessarily see it that way.

It’s not the first time Banks’ evolving skillset has been overlooked, though. Despite being the No. 81-ranked recruit in the 2022 class and the No. 12 power forward, according to 247Sports, he received only seven scholarship offers from high-major schools.

It begs the question: How did coaches not see the potential oozing from the Class 4A Player of the Year in Georgia? The answer is actually quite simple.

When assistant coach Yasir Rosemond was hired to Indiana’s coaching staff in the spring of 2021, one of the first offers he sent out was to Banks. The two already had a pre-existing relationship – Rosemond frequently trained Banks in high school – and few coaches in the nation had as intimate of a view of Banks’ emerging skillset as Rosemond. The length, the shooting ability, the ball-handling, it was too promising for Rosemond not to pursue.

Fortunately for Indiana, it didn’t have to wait through a long, drawn out recruiting battle. Within three months of the IU offer going out to Banks, he had already committed to the Hoosiers.

And it’s a good thing Indiana rushed to secure Banks’ commitment as quickly as it did because his breakout senior season at Fayette County High School would’ve likely taken his recruitment to another level. As the focal point of the team, Banks averaged a team-high 23.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game, while making 40 3-pointers and shooting 63.0 percent from the field.

But now at Indiana, Banks will have to prove himself once again. Not only is he arriving to Bloomington as part of a top-10 recruiting class that includes five-stars Jalen Hood-Schifino and Malik Reneau, and four-star CJ Gunn, he’s also joining a roster that’s returning over 90 percent of its production from last season’s NCAA Tournament squad.

In other words, playing time will be scarce, and if Banks wants to see the court early as a freshman, he’ll have to show he’s more than just a one-trick pony. And so far, he’s already receiving high marks from one of Indiana’s leaders and veterans.

“Kaleb’s a great player,” sixth-year forward Race Thompson said. “Again, didn’t really see him play in high school, didn’t really know what to expect when he got here. But he is very talented, a big wing that can defend, can really shoot the ball, score the ball at all three levels. “

The latter two comments from Thompson are perhaps the most intriguing, as Indiana has struggled to find and recruit consistent shooters and scorers in recent seasons.

In particular, if Banks’ shooting stroke can continue throughout the offseason and into preseason training camp, then Woodson may have a tough time keeping the freshman out of the early-season rotation.

“He’s really impressed me a lot,” Thompson said. “Just how comfortable he is, how confident he is in himself, being able to make plays.”

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