James Banks #4 of the Texas Longhorns blocks a shot by Jimmy Hall #35 of the Kent State Golden Flashes as Adonis De La Rosa #1 of the Kent State Golden looks on at the Frank Erwin Center on December 27, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
Photo: Chris Covatta/Getty Images
Photo: Chris Covatta/Getty Images

Georgia Tech’s James Banks receives waiver to play immediately

One game into the season, Georgia Tech received word Tuesday that transfer James Banks will be able to play immediately. Banks, a Decatur native, received an immediate eligibility waiver from the NCAA after transferring from Texas in May. He otherwise would have had to sit out one season.

Banks, a 6-foot-8 forward/center, is eligible to play in Tuesday night’s game at Tennessee. He has two seasons of eligibility remaining.

“We’re excited to have James in our program and thankful that the NCAA has allowed him the opportunity to play immediately,” coach Josh Pastner said in a statement. “We’re thankful for the time and effort put into this process by our compliance staff. James gives us much needed size, and he’s a very good shot-blocker. We want to play faster, with better pace, and he will help us do that.”

Banks and Tech have had to watch as other basketball players received immediate eligibility waivers from the NCAA before the season. The governing body has seemed to be taking a more lenient approach to granting waivers to transfers who have switched schools for personal reasons unrelated to basketball. Banks’ transfer back home from Texas was at least in part because of family concerns.

In two seasons at Texas, Banks played in 36 games, averaging 1.7 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 10.7 minutes per game. Pastner has said that Banks runs the floor well, can protect the rim and has improved his offensive skills. Pastner also likes Banks’ energy on the floor and communication skills.

“He does a lot of things that don’t always show up in the box score,” Pastner said before the season. “You can’t put enough premium on his kind of team leadership.”

Banks brings needed depth to the Tech frontcourt, which would otherwise have consisted of Abdoulaye Gueye and Sylvester Ogbonda. Gueye played regularly last season and can be effective at both ends, where Ogbonda played 21 minutes last season but had a promising performance in the season opener Friday against Lamar.

Both, however, are prone to fouling, as was on display against Lamar, when the two players fouled out in a combined 35 minutes of play.

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