The Times West Virginian

Prep Sports

June 28, 2014

North’s Banker plans to walk on at FSU

FAIRMONT — North Marion’s Chase Banker didn’t have to venture very far to get the ball rolling on his athletic future.

The Huskies’ dual-sport athlete has decided where he’ll play next season and plans to walk on to the basketball team at Fairmont State.

The move to stay close to home for Banker is one that’s been in the back of his mind since childhood.

Growing up, Banker remembers going to many FSU basketball games, “too many to count,” he said.

“Playing here was always in my mind. FSU and WVU,” Banker noted. “I had big dreams growing up as a kid, and I wanted to be the best of the best around here. It’s a blessing to have the opportunity, so I’m taking it by the horns.”

The decision to choose Fairmont State came just as the 6-foot-1 swingman was mauling over a decision on where to attend college, with Alderson-Broaddus sitting in the forefront on the decision-making process.

But after being invited to an open gym and setting up a recruiting trip, Banker was sold on his hometown university.

“I was getting ready to sign to A-B because they offered me a good chunk of money, but (North Marion) coach (Chris) Freeman told me that (FSU) coach (Jerrod) Calhoun was having an open gym, and they wanted me to come down,” Banker remembered. “They kept telling me to come back, and he gave me a talk in his office during a recruiting trip. He's pretty much a straight shooter.”

The next thing he knew, Banker’s mind had been made up.

The deciding factor in choosing between FSU and other schools came down to deciding which program would make him a better basketball player and give him the best opportunity to help a program.

Ultimately, Banker felt that was FSU.

“I think the biggest deciding factor was that I felt I’d be more of a better basketball player at FSU,” Banker said. “And that’s nothing against the coaches at A-B, but I think that the level of players I’d be playing against would be better at FSU.”

After averaging 15.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game, what Banker brings to the table may not necessarily be numbers, but rather attitude.

“I told them that I’m not the quickest kid or the best ball handler and that I’m at the bottom of the list in those things and I have to work my way up,” Banker said. “I think they liked that fact.”

That attitude has always been a big part of Banker’s game from middle school on up.  

“I think the biggest thing with Chase was — I remember watching him play in seventh and eighth grade and thinking man, this kid has a motor on him,” Banker’s former coach, Freeman, said. “As he continued to grow and mature, it was fun watching him. The biggest thing FSU is getting is a kid that wants to compete and refuses to lose. He's a very coachable kid. I think they'll be very happy with him.”

As a walk-on, one of the biggest roles comes as being a motivator, someone who works the starters in practice and makes the team better because of it.

While he hopes to see his former player on the court during games, Freeman believes Banker can thrive in that role.

“He's walking on, but he has the work ethic to improve and eventually get on the court,” Freeman said. “He’s a team player. He's always wanted what’s best for North Marion, and he’ll want that for FSU, too. I think when his teammates see how hard he plays, that’ll be good motivation for them.

“For a guy who’s walking on and not getting any scholarship money, working hard is the best way to show those guys on scholarship that he belongs.”

As for Banker’s thoughts about playing time and his eventual role as a walk-on in the program when things become official, it’s team first, individual second.

“As an individual I’d look to see the court, but that falls back on what I do. Team wise, coach Calhoun has one of the best Division II teams in the nation. He expects nothing less than a national championship,” Banker said, “and I agree with him.”

Email Matt Welch at mwelch@timeswv.com or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.

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