Former PRC hooper earned his place at MGCCC

Published 7:00 am Thursday, April 9, 2020

AJ Banks is a former basketball standout at Pearl River Central High School who has used his skills to carve out a career at the next level thanks to his work ethic and character.

Banks got his start with basketball as a kid playing around the neighborhood.

In his younger days, friends and family served as teammates and competitors, which only inspired Banks to take the game more seriously when he reached high school.

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Banks said he didn’t just fall in love with the game, but also with the environment in which the sport was played.

“I started playing as a kid and kept going from there. I just had a passion for it and liked being around my teammates. It was a family atmosphere, especially in high school,” Banks said.

In high school Banks was a dominant, ball handling point guard for PRC.

He was placed on the varsity squad his 8th grade year, and as time progressed Banks worked on his game.

The dedication paid off with Banks exploding offensively as an upperclassman.

His junior year Banks averaged 20 points a game, which increased the following year when Banks averaged 21 points a game along with nearly seven rebounds a game.

His performances not only earned him the chance to play in the South Mississippi All-Star Basketball Seniors Game, but also earned him a scholarship to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

However, what stuck with Banks are his senior year accomplishments.

“Senior year we made the playoffs for first time in awhile. It felt good it was crazy. We won 20 games for the first time since 2012, or something,” Banks said.

Following his all star performances and playoff run, Banks had the opportunity to continue his basketball career at the next level.

Banks said that earning the scholarship provided validation for the many hours spent in the gym working on his game.

“It’s been a roller coast ride, but it’s been fun. It put in perspective how much work I put in,” Banks said.

As a sophomore Banks was looking to move on to a four-year university and continue his collegiate career in basketball.

However, the outbreak of the Coronavirus has made that dream a little harder to achieve.

At this time of year, coaches are usually scouting in an effort to recruit prospects, but the NJCAA cancelled all recruiting until April 15 at the earliest.

Not only is the pandemic preventing coaches from seeing Banks at work, but the situation also makes it harder for him to get his film to potential suitors.

“I’m not able to send out film because I can’t get in contact with my coaches. It kind of put me at a stand still, but I’m working on getting my highlight films to send out to the coaches,” Banks said.

Banks’ work ethic has gotten him this far and he’ll continue to pursue opportunities at a four-year university.

It’s that dedication that allowed him to rise above the rest, but he knows there are high school athletes looking to emulate his career.

Banks said it won’t be easy, but it can be done.

“Just stay focused and stay humble. Work every day, even when you don’t work, just keep working,” Banks said.