Backpedaling down the court against Mandeville in the first round of the Sunkist Shootout, Comeaux point guard Ferontay Banks barked out orders to his fellow teammates.
It was the act of a grizzled veteran, a player with the confidence to lead his team from the frontline, a player whose experience has earned him the respect of his teammates and coaches.
The problem with that picture is, Banks is only a 5-foot-9 freshman.
“To have a freshman who talks and communicates like that, it’s special,” Comeaux coach Jeremy Whittington said. “He understands game situations, he was the best player at his middle school and he played against almost everybody in the parish. He hates losing.”
Banks’ hatred of losing was on full display in overtime of the Spartans final game of the Shootout against Carencro. After blowing by his defender on the perimeter, Banks committed a traveling violation.
Rather than letting it affect his play throughout overtime, Banks forced Carencro senior Jacob Siner into a five-second violation on the ensuing possession.
Whittington said that was just another example of Banks’ fearless leadership.
“The kid flat-out knows when he makes he a mistake, he has to make up for it, and that’s the best attitude any of my players can have,” Whittington said. “I mean, for a freshman to get right on a senior’s waist like that and force a mistake, it’s just tremendous to watch.”
As the team’s floor general, Banks has the ball in his hand for most of the team’s offensive possessions and spearheads the team’s perimeter defense.
Banks’ toughness on the court was developed through years of playing with older players, even grown men, at the neighborhood park.
Banks said the experience against the older players helped him learn what it took to play at the next level of competition.
“This kid is not a normal kid, he’s been playing with grown men at the park next to his house for years,” Whittington said. “So he’s not scared of anything.”
Whittington said despite being a freshman, Banks has earned the trust of the team’s experienced players, most importantly senior forward Hunter Register, Comeaux’s go-to scorer.
“Sometimes when we get into pressure situations on the floor in the full court or half court, and it’s either (Ferontay) or (Register) with the ball,” Whittington said.
“And (Register) tries to take over at times, but he has no problem kicking the ball out to (Ferontay) and watching him beat his man off the dribble.”
The trust Banks has earned has been built through years of competing with Comeaux’s older players. Banks has played with the Spartans’ players thanks to his older brother Ke’shawn Jones, who was Comeaux’s starting point guard the past two years.
Whittington said watching his older brother lead Comeaux in some of it’s most successful seasons helped Banks develop his leadership skills.
“I learned everything about leading from my brother,” Banks said. “He was the point guard last year, and he always told me, ‘Make sure you lead on the floor, make sure you know what you’re doing out there.’ ”
Banks’ brother isn’t the only family member who has motivated the young point guard to work as hard as he does,
Whittington described Banks as player who never tires of working to get better, and Banks said his hard work on the court stems from a desire to play for his mom.
“I work as hard as I do for my mom,” Banks said. “She’s going through a tough time right now, so I want to do everything I can to help.”