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Indiana basketball player preview: Kaleb Banks

Another step up in year two?

Syndication: The Herald-Times Bobby Goddin/Herald-Times / USA TODAY NETWORK

Kaleb Banks is probably one of the most intriguing prospects on Indiana’s roster. As a four star prospect ranked 89th in his class, he wasn’t ready to come in and contribute right away, but he should be well-positioned to make a decent leap this year.

He’s already made something of an impact off the court, being the first player from Georgia to commit to Indiana under Mike Woodson. That had to have helped in landing Jakai Newton in the following class, while also playing a part in Indiana’s matchup with Auburn in Atlanta this year.

The Atlanta area to Indiana pipeline is now fully operational, thanks in part to Kaleb Banks. Being able to recruit elite players from beyond your immediate area has and will continue to pay dividends for Woodson and company.

It’s also worth noting that Banks remained fully committed to Indiana, choosing not to enter the portal after seeing very limited time as a freshman. Not every player with his talent would stick around after that, which speaks to his character as a teammate and Woodson’s ability to get guys to buy into what he’s selling as a vision for the program.

Though he will probably come off the bench behind Mackenzie Mgbako or Malik Reneau, I think this will be the year that we see more of what Kaleb Banks is capable of on the court.

On the court

Part of the reason I was so excited about Kaleb Banks last year was his shooting ability in high school. As a senior, he knocked down 38% of his attempts from deep, averaging more than one attempt per game.

He only got five shots up from 3-point range in limited playing time last year, but hit two of them, suggesting that he should continue to be a threat from outside as he develops into a college player. At 6’8” and 220 pounds, this will make him a tough matchup in the Big Ten.

One thing that really impressed me last year was his bounciness and willingness to grab rebounds. In 12 minutes of action against Ohio State last year, he pulled down seven boards and made a couple of put backs for easy points.

His athleticism and ability to mix it up inside will be big in replacing Jordan Geronimo this year after his transfer to Maryland. His shooting also means he can play a bit more like a true wing, allowing him to see time at both the 3 and 4 spots in Indiana’s offense.

Banks will need to limit his turnovers to really reach his potential this year, but part of that is likely just adjusting to the college game. After one season and full offseason of work, the hope would be that he understands his role a little better and won’t find himself dribbling himself into trouble as frequently.

In an ideal world, Banks will not be dribbling much outside of transition situations, where his speed really lets him get out ahead of the defense. He’d be best used on offense as a catch and shoot kind of player and slasher who can crash the rim for rebounds and put back buckets.

Having him on the bench this year though should really help Indiana be a more versatile offense whether he’s backing up Reneau or Mgbako. Playing him alongside Kel’el Ware and Mackenzie Mgbako would make a front court of three guys who are true scoring threats from behind the arc.

He won’t get the same preseason coverage of some of the newcomers like Ware and Mgbako, but Banks taking a step this year could really help raise Indiana’s ceiling. He’s sure to see more minutes this year and my expectation is that he takes full advantage of that opportunity to really show what he can do.