Wyoming men’s basketball’s last starting point guard was from Gillette. Their next one could be from Cheyenne.
The Cowboys announced the signing of transfer A.J. Banks on Friday. The 6-foot-2, 175-pounder isn’t an Indian, Bison or Thunderbird. He did, however, play high school basketball at Cheyenne High School in Las Vegas.
“That was pretty cool, I thought,” Banks said of the coincidence.
For the last two years, Banks has been at Pratt (Kansas) Community College, where he averaged 11.2 points, three rebounds and 3.3 assists as a sophomore and 6.9 points and 2.3 assists per game as a freshman. He hit 50 percent of his shots last year and 40 percent of his 3-point attempts.
Banks played all point guard in high school and mostly point guard at Pratt, though he played some combo guard last season as well. With Gillette native Cody Kelley, who started 23 games at point guard last season, transferring to South Dakota, there is opportunity for Banks to step in immediately.
“One of the most appealing things to me was the opportunity to come in right away and make an impact and hopefully turn things around for the better and get Wyoming basketball on the right track again,” Banks said.
The Cowboys also signed point guard Bradley Belt from Washington Academy in North Carolina, and Nyaires Redding, who began the 2017-18 season as Wyoming’s starting point guard, also returns.
Banks is the second junior college transfer of Wyoming’s 2018 signing class, joining shooting guard Jake Hendricks of College of Southern Idaho. He’s the seventh overall signee of the class, along with Banks, Hendricks, shooting guard Tariq Johnson (Mt. Zion Prep in Maryland), and small forwards Brandon Porter (Washington Academy), Trevon Taylor (Hillcrest Prep in Arizona) and Trace Young (Mt. Zion Prep). The Cowboys have one available scholarship remaining.
Banks found Wyoming’s style of play appealing, as it’s “very similar” to the style he played at Pratt, he said.
“We played fast-paced, did a lot of stuff in transition and also a lot of ball screens,” Banks said.
Banks chose Wyoming over Jackson State, Stetson, Florida International, Pitt State and Alcorn State, all of which gave him a scholarship offer. He also had recruiting interest from Utah State and Pacific.
Wyoming initially recruited Banks in mid-April. Assistant coach Jermaine Kimbrough first contacted Banks, and then recently hired assistant Shaun Vandiver made the trip to Pratt to visit him. Vandiver and head coach Allen Edwards then crossed paths with Banks at a junior college recruiting event in Dallas.
Banks visited Wyoming earlier this week, and was happy with what he saw.
“Right away, as soon as I got there, Coach Edwards and the rest of the staff were very welcoming and made me feel confident about being in the situation,” he said. “Taking a tour around campus, everyone seemed excited at possibly having another Cowboy. So that was a big part of it.”
The size of the town felt comfortable to Banks, too.
“Coming from Pratt, which is a very small town, I think that Laramie is kind of similar to that,” he said. “And me being able to focus and continue to get better, not having any distractions around me, I thought that that was something that was pretty appealing to me.”
He also liked the fact that in the Mountain West, he will have the opportunity to play back in Nevada.
“That was definitely something I looked forward to and I thought was nice about Wyoming,” he said.
And back in the Cowboy State, he’ll soon make himself known to another Cheyenne.