CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - FEBRUARY 27: De'Andre Hunter #12 of the Virginia Cavaliers shoots past James Banks III #1 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the first half during a game at John Paul Jones Arena on February 27, 2019 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)
Photo: Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images
Photo: Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

James Banks applies for NBA draft, could return

Georgia Tech center James Banks has made himself eligible for the NBA draft. Banks and coach Josh Pastner made the announcement Monday.

It is a no-lose proposition for Banks, as he can gauge his draft candidacy and get feedback from NBA scouts without any harm to his final year of eligibility. He has until May 29 to remove his name from the draft.

“James will get the opportunity over the next few weeks to receive all the feedback he needs from NBA people to make a decision on his future,” Pastner said in a statement.

An NBA talent evaluator told the AJC Monday that he did not think that Banks will receive an invitation to the NBA draft combine (held May 14-19), which can be a telltale indicator of a prospect’s draft hopes.

The 6-foot-9 center from Decatur had a breakout season for the Yellow Jackets after transferring from Texas last May following his sophomore season with the Longhorns.

After playing a backup role with the Longhorns, averaging 10.7 minutes per game, Banks received an immediate-eligibility waiver after the first game of the season and became a linchpin for the Jackets. He averaged 10.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in 30.3 minutes per game while shooting 56.4 percent from the field. Banks’ block average led the ACC and was 11th nationally. He was named to the ACC’s all-defensive team.

As Tech has scholarships available, Banks’ decision to make himself available for the draft will not impair Pastner’s spring recruiting efforts. Last spring, when guard Josh Okogie declared for the draft, Pastner did not have any other scholarships available for the 2018-19 academic year, so Pastner could not make a scholarship offer until Okogie made his decision to stay in the draft on May 21, by which point the high-school and transfer markets had significantly thinned.

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