February 8, 2008

Big Sky Conference Feature: Jabril Banks

Feb. 8, 2008

Big Sky Conference Feature: Jabril Banks Get Acrobat Reader

Big Sky Profile: 

Northern Colorado's Jabril Banks

Sport: Men's basketball

School: Northern Colorado

Position: Forward

Year: Junior

Size: 6-foot-7

Major: Communications

Hometown: Denver, Colo.

Jabril Banks has taken Northern Colorado and the Big Sky Conference by storm during his first season with the Bears. Banks ranked sixth in the Big Sky in field-goal percentage at .573,  ranks eighth in scoring at 13.0 points per game and seventh in rebounding at 6.1 points per game. Northern Colorado is currently 3-7 in league, and is 9-13 overall. In 2005-06, Northern Colorado won a total of two conference games and just four games overall. The Bears hit the road this week, taking on Idaho State on Thursday and Weber State on Saturday. Both games can be seen at www.bigskytv.org. Banks spent a few minutes on the phone with Jon Kasper of the Big Sky Conference. Let's get to know Jabril Banks:

Q: Jabril, you starred at Indian Hills Community College in Iowa prior to enrolling at Northern Colorado. Tell us how you ended up at Northern Colorado, and why you chose the Bears?

A: One of the main reasons I ended up coming back is I wanted to be closer to home, and a saw it as a good opportunity to come back. Coach Hill (UNC assistant coach B.J. Hill) was an assistant my freshman year at Indian Hills. I knew him well, so I knew I was coming into a good situation. 

Q: Robert Palacios, a junior guard from Venezuela, for the Bears, also played at Indian Hills Community College. Is he someone you've developed a special bond with, someone you help handling differences between Venezuela and the United States?

A: Oh yeah. Robert is an independent person. He spends a lot of time working on his school and getting better on his English. I try to help when I can. He's always doing salsa dancing, and trying to get me into salsa. I don't have the footwork for that. He's tried, but it's not looking too pretty.

Q: I've seen you on television a few times this season, and I've been really impressed with your athleticisms and play in the paint. What do you feel your strengths are on the court?

A: On the court, I try to be vocal. I try to be a vocal leader on the team. That's one of the best things I give my team right now. I'm trying to be a presence on interior defense and help our bigs out.     

Q: Northern Colorado is a team that has struggled since making the transition from Division II to Division I. You came to a team that won four games last season. Already, you have nine victories and exceeded your conference win total from last season. How has coach Tad Boyle been able to change the program so quickly?

A: Coach Boyle has been getting good players who honestly care about each other and aren't selfish. We want to play basketball and we want to win. He's brought in good character guys. When I was at Indiana Hills I went through a lot of ups and downs and found out a lot about myself. I tried to bring everything I have to Northern Colorado. I didn't think about last year's record. I thought about the team this year and what we could possibly achieve.

Q: Back in January, the Bears scored a huge upset, knocking off San Diego State 62-56, ending the Aztec's 13-game home winning streak, and ending Northern Colorado's 12-game road losing streak. How big was that win for the program?

A: It was a big win. Every one was just so focused to play. We came out in that big arena and saw all of the fans going crazy and counting us out. That had us ready to play, got our juices going. We come to compete every night. That was definitely a big win for us. 

Q: With six games left in conference play, the Bears are 3-7 in conference. In order to qualify for the conference tournament, you are going to need to win some road games, something the Bears haven't accomplished yet. Why do you think you've struggled on the road, and how do you change that?

A: We need to come back better prepared. We need to know the scouting report and communicate on defense. A road game is a whole different story, a whole different atmosphere. It's just us against the world. When it's an away game we know what we have to do and we have to play together as a team.

Q: What's been the biggest adjustment going from junior college to Division I?

A: My community college was small. Here at Northern Colorado, you are walking everywhere. You're walking to this class and that class and you need to know where to go. That's been the biggest adjustment for me. Basketball wise, it's about what I can do for the team. It's been a learning experience. I like to take my time and not force anything and just keep learning. I keep learning every single day. 

Q: I understand you have your last name tattooed across your back. Tell me about that.

A: I represent my family with pride. A bunch of my family members, cousins, some brothers and sisters, got the tattoo. I like to think it's a family tradition. I want to carry on the family tradition, and I don't want to ever to anything to disrespect my family name.'

Q: Do you have a lot of family members come up from Denver to watch you?

A: They come out every single night now. They never got a chance to watch me play in community college. I was in the middle of nowhere in Iowa. It had an Applebee's a Wal-Mart, a McDonalds and a Taco Bell. There wasn't anything fun to do outside of basketball. It didn't even have a bowling ally, and I like to bowl. I'm not the best bowler, but when I bowl I'm competitive. I don't like to bowl with my girlfriend because I get competitive and get carried away.

Fun Facts

Favorite Greeley restaurant: Johnny Carino's.

Favorite musician: Jay-Z.

Favorite TV show: SportsCenter.

Favorite movie: "Little Nicky"

Favorite class: Small group communication

Favorite thing about Greeley: The fans.

Favorite pro athlete: Carmelo Anthony

Favorite Big Sky road arena: Eastern Washington. They had some crazy fans.

What do you hope to do with your major? If basketball doesn't work out, I'd like to have a radio talk show. It would be very opinionated with current events. I want to voice my opinion of the world.