Saint Peter’s in Elite 8 thanks in large part to Daryl Banks

PHILADELPHIA — Daryl Banks showed up at Patrick School in 2015, standing 5-foot-5 and weighing 100 pounds.

“He could have been even smaller without the hair,” Celtics basketball coach Chris Chavannes said.

There was only one way to stand out.

“I had to work for everything, being so little,” Banks said. “Especially at school Patrick, going up against huge guys every day, it made me work even harder.”

That ethos is one of the main reasons Saint Peter’s is playing for a spot in the Final Four on Sunday (5:05 p.m., CBS) against North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament East Regional Final. In a Cinderella team of underdogs, Banks is one of the greatest.

St. Peter's Peacocks goaltender Daryl Banks III (5) reacts in the second half against the Purdue Boilermakers in the Eastern Region Semifinals of the NCAA Men's College Basketball Tournament at the Wells Fargo Center.

Although he’s grown over the years, reaching 5-8 as a sophomore, 6-0 as a junior and his current height of 6-3 as a senior, Banks’ growth as a player hasn’t been so linear. . He had to wait his turn behind future college stars Bryce Aiken, Jordan Walker and Jamir Harris.

Shaheen Holloway noticed

Most college recruiters didn’t notice. Shaheen Holloway did. Only Saint Peter’s and Wagner offered scholarships.

“When you watched Daryl in high school, he wasn’t the main player, but he always found a way to be on the court with these star guys that were on these teams,” Holloway said. “He played for coach Chavannes, so I know he can become a coach. He shot and was the main defender for this team. When you put it all together, I was like, ‘You know what? I want it.’ And give him credit; he wanted to play for me.

Banks was nothing short of sensational in Friday’s Sweet 16 game against Purdue. Along with his team-high 14 points, the junior guard helped put the clamps on Boilermaker superstar Jaden Ivey, leading him into a six-figure brick fest.

“He was Saint Peter’s best player,” Chavannes said. “Shaheen pressed all over the court to take them deep into the shot clock, and Daryl was a big part of that. He made their life miserable. This ball pressure was an indirect means of defending the post (where the Peacocks were vastly oversized).

March 25, 2022;  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA;  Saint Peter's Daryl Banks III defends against Purdue's Jaden Ivey in the first half in the Sweet Sixteen

Banks, who is originally from Los Angeles but has lived with a parent in North Brunswick and Franklin since age 13, earned All-MAAC third-team honors this season. He’s averaging 11.5 points, shooting 37% from 3-point range and 85% from the free throw line.

“A first-class kid, one of those kids you want your daughter to hang out with,” Holloway said. “Very respectful, student 4.0.”

Banks specialize in sports management.

“When you have kids like that coming out of the ranks and being a model student and developing the way he has it athletically, it’s really special,” Chavannes said.

Banks will likely lead the toughest mission against the Tar Heels – defending NBA-bound guard Caleb Love. The second shredded UCLA for 30 points in the Sweet 16.

“It’s not going to be given”

Chavannes thinks he is up to it. He once asked Banks to defend Kentucky-bound Roselle Catholic forward Kahlil Whitney in an elimination game. Despite giving up three inches, “he did a good job and we won the match,” Chavannes said.

After dealing with Aiken, Walker and Harris in training every day, no worries.

“It really shaped me to who I am today, knowing you have to work,” Banks said. “It’s not going to be given.”

Jerry Carino has covered the New Jersey sports scene since 1996 and college basketball since 2003. He is an Associated Press Top 25 Voters. Contact him at [email protected]

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