There’s no point in pretending Brendon Ganaway knew what he was getting into when he arrived at Southern last summer — he doesn’t pretend, anyway.
Ganaway spent most of his redshirt year with the Southern men's basketball team trying to figure out what it took to be a Division I athlete.
Video work. Extra shooting outside of practice. Strength and conditioning work. Focus on the court.
Ganaway had to relearn all of that if he hoped to be the future of the program, like coach Roman Banks intended when he recruited him out of suburban Houston.
And make no mistake, Ganaway is the future of the program. Starting point guard Tre’lun Banks graduated just before Christmas and, even if he hadn’t, his four years of eligibility are up at the end of this season.
Ready or not, Ganaway is the heir apparent.
“We hope he’s learning because, right now, he’ll be the 'A' guy at point guard coming back,” Roman Banks said. “I always ask him, ‘Are you sure you’re ready for this?’ There’s a lot of pressure coming when that ball is in your hands. I always say it’s not about his ability. It’s about his maturity.”
Banks knew Ganaway could eventually handle the job since he found him at Fort Bend Bush High School in Richmond, Texas, playing for former Texas Southern coach Ronnie Courtney.
Even if Ganaway didn’t have all the tools to play at the college level then, Banks had faith that Courtney’s influence would prepare him for the demands of SWAC basketball.
Ganaway is a traditional, pass-first point guard, which contrasts to Tre’lun Banks’ aggressive and physical approach to the position.
While Banks has an attack mindset and has no problems driving to the basket, it’s Ganaway’s finesse game, his soft touch and propensity to spread the ball out that the Jaguars will work with next season.
Roman Banks said he isn't too worried about the swap, considering it won’t be the first time his team went through a similar transition.
Before Tre’lun Banks' spin on the position, Christopher Hyder used his speed and agility to run the Jaguars offense — quite successfully, too.
“I just try to have fun every time I step on the floor,” Ganaway said. “I just try to do whatever I can to help my team win the game. Have fun, have some excitement.”
Ganaway spent the past year and a half preparing for his assumed rise to starter, working closely with Tre’lun Banks daily. The two are often seen dissecting Ganaway’s play on the sideline during games.
Ever since it became clear Ganaway would be his successor, Banks made it a point to take him under his wing, which Ganaway believes helped him grow.
It was the least the senior could do.
“It’s just like (Hyder) did me when I got in the system,” Banks said. “I stayed under his wings day by day, little hints, and by the time I got to senior year, it’s what comes with it. It’s natural instinct to groom (Ganaway) and keep him going. When I leave and he’s a junior or senior, he’ll be doing the same thing for the next freshman.”
Progress has been slow at points. Ganaway has played in all 17 games this season but averages only 8.9 minutes. That isn’t much, and it’s usually only a few minutes at a time while Tre'lun Banks takes a rest on the bench, but coach Banks isn’t looking for much more right now.
There has been talk of putting both players on the court at the same time, allowing Ganaway to run the point and opening up the wings for Banks to get more involved in scoring. The idea is that it allows both players to do what they do best: Ganaway passing and Banks scoring. There haven’t been many looks with both of them on the court so far, but there may be more as conference play progresses.
The biggest factors holding Ganaway back, beyond his focus, are a lack of defense and a tendency toward turnovers. If he can get those under control, coach Banks may consider an increased role down the stretch.
“He’s practicing better,” Banks said. “He’s competing more. He’s engaged in film, which he wasn’t a month ago. He’s a lot better now.”