You’ll have to forgive Roman Banks if he’s a little short on sleep these days.
The man has quite a lot on his mind.
Originally, the first-year Southern men’s basketball coach planned on starting preseason practice Friday - but he adjusted on the fly, and with good reason.
At 9 a.m. Saturday, Banks - who finished a stellar career at Northwestern State in 1992 - will be inducted into the university’s “N Club” Hall of Fame. He and his family planned to leave Baton Rouge late Friday night, accept what Banks called “a tremendous honor,” then pack up the car and head back to SU, where the team will crank up its first practice together at 6 p.m. inside the F.G. Clark Activity Center.
“I got the call out of the blue,” said Banks, fresh from an eight-year stint at Southeastern Louisiana. “I know several years ago, when I would go up there, they would tell me my time is coming up. I guess I got voted in there when my time came up. I’m just glad to know that the body of work that you did over time, that people respect it and appreciate it.”
It’s the second straight year in which a Southern basketball coach is honored at Northwestern State. Women’s basketball coach Sandy Pugh, a former Lady Demons standout, joined the N Club Hall of Fame last year.
For Banks, with the induction and his first practice session at SU, it’ll be quite a day. Then again, it’s been quite a time since Banks, a former SU assistant under Tommy Green and Ben Jobe, returned to Baton Rouge in April.
He took over a program that went 17-74 in its final three years under coach Rob Spivery, who wrapped up a six-season stint with the worst record in school history (4-26).
What’s more, none of Southern’s returning veterans shot 30 percent from 3-point range last season, and none averaged 10 points per game.
Obviously, Banks said, the team needed an infusion of new players.
Among the headliners is junior center Javan Mitchell, who left Louisiana-Lafayette and joined the team this fall, adding much-needed depth to a thin frontcourt (the team lost forward Ray Ray Chase, a part-time starter who transferred to Lamar State College-Port Arthur).
Mitchell played for two years at St. Martinville High before he transferred to Greensboro (N.C.) Day School. He played in 28 games last season at ULL, averaging 2.3 points and 1.1 rebounds in 7.4 minutes.
Mitchell joins a class of seven newcomers, including:
• Derick Beltran, a 6-4 junior guard from Riverview, Fla., who averaged 8.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game for Tallahassee (Fla.) Community College last spring. Tallahassee reached the NJCAA national tournament in Hutchinson, Kan.
e_SBlt Cameron Monroe, a 6-2 freshman guard from Evangel Christian Academy, which reached the Class 2A state finals last season. Monroe was an honorable mention on the Louisiana Sports Writers Association Class 2A All-State team.
e_SBlt Thomas Marshall, a 5-9 freshman guard from Lithonia, Ga., who averaged 7.9 points and 6.5 assists per game as a senior at Miller Grove High School, which finished with a 32-1 overall record.
e_SBlt Chase Stanley, a 6-0 freshman guard from University High. Stanley made The Advocate’s All-Metro team last season after shooting 52 percent from the field and leading all local players with a 27.3-point scoring average.
e_SBlt Russell Hill, a 6-2 sophomore guard from Memphis, Tenn., who played last season at Mid-South Community College in West Memphis, Ark., for Andy Stoglin, the former SU and Jackson State coach. Hill averaged 18.0 points per game for Mid-South.
e_SBlt Lawrence Certain, a 6-6 freshman forward from Gainesville, Fla., who averaged 4.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game as a senior at Gainesville High.
Banks cautioned that not only does Southern have a host of newcomers, but most of the returning players are short on experience - but also players who want to play his brand of basketball.
“We’ve been going through a lot of meetings with coaches, trying to teach them a lot of what I want,” he said. “It’s just been a lot organization and planning to let them know what we want them to do.”