Meet James Banks III, a senior center from Decatur, Ga., who is set to graduate in May with a degree in history, technology and society. James joined the Yellow Jackets in the summer of 2018 following his transfer from the University of Texas. He was granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA on the day of Tech’s second game of the 2018-19 season. He went on to earn selection to the Atlantic Coast Conference All-Defensive team both as a junior and senior, leading the ACC in blocked shots as a junior and ranking No. 2 as a senior, while anchoring a Yellow Jackets defense that was one of the best in the ACC and the nation. He finished his Tech career No. 8 on Tech’s all-time blocked shot list with 154.
What has been your favorite thing about being at Georgia Tech?
“The people and the environment. I am surrounded by great people every day in a great city. People here are genuine and care about each other. It has helped me to grow as a person and as a basketball player.”
What made you first fall in love with the game?
“How hard it was. I was not good at it at all at first. It presented a real challenge to me. Nothing is better to me than catching somebody that everyone said was better than you. In my head, I gained a complex that nobody was better than me at anything and that I could do everything. That aspect of basketball made me fall in love with the game.”
What are your hobbies off the court?
“These days not much. I spend most of my free time either relaxing or spending time in the recovery room with our guy Rich. Unless it is basketball or school work I am usually just back in my room.”
What players did you grow up watching/modeling your game after?
“Initially I hated basketball with a passion because people really wanted me to play it. I was a stubborn little kid, and I wanted to just play football. When I first started playing, I did not have many people I modeled my game after. But these days I would like to say Shaq, because he was such a monster early on. Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic are really good. I look at what the bigs do well and have the same mentality they have. The way guys utilize footwork and get off their shots is what I pay attention to. I know Embiid has some pump-fakes and other things he does to get to the basket. I watch what people like him do and try to see what works or does not work for me.”
What is the history of sports in your family? Played? Coached?
“Nobody else did any other sports.”
What are your personal goals for the year?
“I want to grow as a person. When it comes to basketball specifically I just want to be the best player I can be and help my team. I want to go undefeated every time I step out on the floor. I look back at every game and think of how I could have done things differently. Getting more athletic and listening to coach helps me integrate my game to help this team win.”
Who is your favorite athlete outside of basketball?
What is something people might not know about you?
“I will have to reach into my bag for this one I am a pretty open guy. I have glow in the dark stars and moons on my ceilings and walls.”
If you could meet any one person, living or dead, who would it be?
If you weren’t playing basketball, what sport would you be playing?
“Golf for sure. I used to golf.”
If you could have one super power what would it be?
If you could only eat one meal the rest of your life, what is on your plate?
“Stir-fry. You can make it so many different ways.”
What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
“I have gotten such great advice from a lot of people in life. I would have to say that ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ That is something that, as far as advice goes, if you are down it always hits the spot.”
What is your favorite sports movie?
“Forrest Gump or The Waterboy. People say Forrest Gump is not a sports movie, but he was the all-time leading rusher at Alabama.”
What is your favorite cartoon character?
Who would play you in the movie of your life?
“I do not know. Maybe Denzel Washington, but by the time they would make one about me I feel like it would be a new up-and-coming actor so I do not really know.”
Best breakfast cereal?
“Any of the Post Pebbles – Fruity or Cocoa”
What is your favorite thing about playing at McCamish Pavilion?
“The energy and people in it. With the history here, the Thrillerdome and all of that, it is amazing. What this place means to the city and the people that come here and have come before, I feel that as well. A lot of schools do not have something like this, so it is special to me to be part of it.”
What’s your go-to gas station snack?
“I dabble in everything. These Welch’s yogurt fruit joints are tough. The beef jerky is tough. I always get the mega packs of gum, too.”