Class 4A Blog: Banks, Fayette County prepare for rematch with No. 1 McDonough

Class 4A has been fortunate in recent seasons to be home to some of the biggest prospects in the nation. This trend includes former five-star and 7-footer Walker Kessler—who was the No. 1 ranked player in the state for the Class of 2020 when Woodward Academy still resided in Class 4A. Fast forward to the 2021-22 season and Class 4A features another nationally-recognized name with Fayette County senior Kaleb Banks. The 6-foot-8 four-star prospect is the No. 3 ranked senior in the state according to 247sports and he recently committed to powerhouse Indiana in November. Banks’ impressive status as a recruit has been validated with his play this season and he is currently leading all of Class 4A with 25.7 ppg.

Furthermore, Banks is leading the way with 55 percent shooting from the field and he is able to also knock down three-pointers with his range, make an impact at the foul line with his outstanding accuracy and contribute 10.4 rebounds per game. Earlier this season, Banks scored 38 points off 17-of-19 shooting in Fayette County’s 105-55 win over Riverdale. He has scored more than 30 points in six separate occasions and achieved that mark in three-straight games to start off an outstanding December.

Perhaps no game shows how valuable Banks is to Fayette County than the team’s recent 59-58 win over Trinity Christian where Banks scored a game-high 37 points to go with a season-high 17 rebounds. Fayette County will visit No. 1 ranked McDonough on Jan. 11 in a massive region battle. McDonough previously scored a 63-49 win on Nov. 30 and that was a game where McDonough took 33 trips to the foul line and Fayette County earned just six trips to it. Expect Fayette County to be more aggressive against the Warhawks and it should be a very interesting game on a loaded slate next week.

As January continues, there are several big-time matchups to keep an eye on. Closing out this week, Jefferson will take on East Hall on the road Jan. 7 in a great county and Region 8 showdown. East Hall is currently 13-2 overall and 2-1 in Region play, but the Vikings are yet to take on Jefferson. Cedar Shoals served East Hall a massive 60-37 defeat back on Dec. 10 and so this will be a good opportunity to see if East Hall can stack up against Jefferson—which is 13-1 overall and 3-0 in Region 8. Jefferson previously defeated Cedar Shoals 74-53 on the road, so a Dragons win would solidify their status as the team to beat in Region 8. Next week will have more big boys matchups to prepare for. On Jan. 11, No. 8 Fayette County will visit No. 1 ranked McDonough and No. 2 Westover will visit No. 7 Bainbridge. The McDonough boys ascended to the top of the Class 4A polls over the Holidays with a 34-29 win over previous No. 1 ranked Baldwin. Since that victory, McDonough has won four-straight to improve to 12-1 and captured the Morris Bank Holiday Classic Championship. Even more notable, Westover scored a 65-56 win over Baldwin and that win and Thursday’s 54-46 victory over Perry improved the Patriots’ record to 10-0. Baldwin’s two recent defeats showcase the depth and excitement within 4A and there is a long list of contenders loading the current poll. Four of McDonough’s top 5 scorers are underclassmen—including junior Amon McDowell (16.5 ppg), junior Daavion Thomas (14.5 ppg), sophomore Keenan Gray (9.8 ppg) and junior Avante Nichols (7.9 ppg). Nichols transferred in from New Creation Christian this offseason and is a 6-foot-3 wing player. Westover’s Kemari Leverette made four 3-pointers in the win over Baldwin and finished with 12 points and teammates Effrin Smith (16), Keshay Walton (11) and Cameron Cromer (10) also finished in double-figures. Baldwin’s Rudolph Satcher has led the Braves with 16.4 ppg this season and he is the team’s most reliable free-throw shooter as well.