2022-23 Indiana basketball player profile: Kaleb Banks

  • 10/18/2022 8:06 am in

With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’ve transitioned from our look at other Big Ten programs to our player-by-player previews of the 2022-23 Indiana roster.

Today, our player profiles continue with a look at freshman Kaleb Banks.

Previously: Malik Reneau, CJ Gunn, Jalen Hood-Schifino

Out of all of Indiana basketball’s freshmen, Kaleb Banks seems like the newcomer fans are talking about the least.

Banks’ quieter, more reserved attitude — at least in press conferences — has led to his being somewhat overlooked in the preseason excitement. That excitement, at least for fans, is more focused on players like Trayce Jackson-Davis and Jalen Hood-Schifino, not to mention the bigger picture for the team.

But there’s a lot to know about Kaleb Banks.

With his stature alone, the Georgia native is a force to be reckoned with. Standing at 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Banks is strong and talented, with a lot of natural skill. In his senior year at Fayette County High School, the forward averaged 23 points, 10 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game to earn the title of Georgia Class 4A player of the year.

As is the case with the other Hoosier freshmen, Banks carries impressive numbers rankings-wise as well. ESPN ranked him 78th in the 2022 recruiting class, and he was ranked 84th by 247Sports and 131st by Rivals.com. Already, he seems to be living up to those expectations.

“I feel like the rate at which he’s getting better and he’s getting better, and what he has right now — his physical abilities — I feel like he’s gonna be a sleeper,” Jordan Geronimo said about Banks on a Zoom call in July.

Just as important as the numbers, though, are the relationships. Before Banks even committed, an invisible string was already connecting him to the Hoosiers.

Banks’ relationship with Yasir Rosemond, now Mike Woodson’s associate head coach, dates back to Banks’ high school days — Rosemond used to train him when the two were both in Georgia. When Rosemond took an assistant coaching job at Indiana in April 2021, that drew Banks’ eyes to the Hoosier state. He committed in July of 2021.

In doing so, Banks became the first class of 2021 recruit to commit to Mike Woodson’s Indiana team.

During a Zoom press conference over the summer, Banks highlighted his relationship with strength coach Clif Marshall and the other freshmen. Banks said he and Marshall had gone fishing together, and he spent just about every day with his peers.

All of Indiana’s freshmen hold a lot of promise as a group. Individually, they’ve each got the potential to play some big minutes once they get used to playing at the next level and come into their own.

“I’m still learning how good I am,” Banks said over the summer. “I think I’ve still got a lot of potential for me to reach.”

The consensus is that Banks will be a small forward, playing as a three. That’s what was expected when he committed, and it’s carried over through summer practices to now. With his wingspan and reach, using Banks as a wing makes the most sense out of the gate.

One of the biggest improvements Indiana needs to make as a team is with shooting; whether it be consistency from the wing, beyond the arc or even jump shots, the Hoosiers need more consistent shooting.

While Miller Kopp is returning and seems the likely choice to start at small forward again, and Tamar Bates a potential threat for Kopp’s spot, Mike Woodson now has many options for both the starting spot and replacements off the bench. Kopp will need to be very consistent to be a regular starter, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Bates fight hard for that role.

Adding Banks to the mix only serves to strengthen Indiana’s depth. Reliable players off the bench can be just as impactful as starters, and Banks has certainly been that impactful player before. In his senior season, Banks made 40 3-pointers and shot 63 percent from the field.

Versatility is also one of the keys to this year’s freshmen class. While Banks will have to focus primarily on adjusting to the college game and working on his shooting, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him taking on different roles on the court later in the season and the future.

Bottom Line: Banks will have his fair share of competition among the upperclassmen for minutes, but he could find his way into minutes if he can defend and help space the floor. If Banks can adapt quickly and show he can play at the college level, he has a chance to be a very important part of Indiana’s future. And if that doesn’t quite happen this season, there’s a very good chance it will in the coming seasons.

Quotable: “Kaleb is someone who continues to improve his game and has a tremendous future in basketball. He is a very versatile player both offensively and defensively. His ability to score the basketball and create for him and his teammates is something that was very attractive to our staff. He is a tough-minded player who plays with great confidence and will be an impactful part of our program. I love the way he carries himself and shows his love for what he does.” – Mike Woodson when Banks committed to Indiana.

(Photo credit: IU Athletics)

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