By Darian Nourian
Last season Jimmy Bankson helped the San Clemente boys basketball team make history, as the Tritons captured the school’s first league title since 1975.
With his stellar play, the 6-foot-1-inch senior not only elevated his team to an 18-11 overall record (7-1 Sea View League) and a league championship, but also made first team all-league and second team all-CIF.
Bankson, the Tritons resident scorer, averaged a team-high 13.9 points per game. Many will remember his 30-point onslaught against Capistrano Valley in the first round of the CIF-SS playoffs. It’s this individual scoring prowess that has given Bankson the opportunity to play basketball at the collegiate level and he will do so next year at Cal Lutheran, an NCAA Division III school that plays in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC).
“I consider basketball one of my passions and I hope to play it for as long as I can,” Bankson said. “The last four years at San Clemente have meant so much to me, but I am really excited for the future.”
San Clemente Times sat down with the former Tritons standout to see what he thought of his team’s historic run last season, what he thinks about playing basketball at the next level, and a potpourri of other basketball-related topics.
San Clemente Times: How did you feel being a part of San Clemente history this year?
Jimmy Bankson: Being a part of history at San Clemente was truly an honor. Going into the year, we knew we had a shot at winning league and that no team had done so since 1975. Once the season got closer to the end of league, we were in a great spot. Our last league game against Trabuco Hills was the clincher, and it was such a satisfying feeling. Basketball has been overlooked at school for years, but we put it back on the map. It’s a really great feeling knowing I was part of one of the best basketball teams in San Clemente history.
SCT: How are you preparing for basketball at the next level?
JB: I am mainly just trying to further my skills. Currently I am playing club basketball to prepare for next year. I know I am going to have to get faster, stronger, and better overall to excel in college. I am mostly excited to play in that college atmosphere with all of those crazy fans in the stands. It feels weird knowing I am going off to college, but I am definitely ready to play some basketball.
SCT: What was your best memory of San Clemente Basketball?
JB: I had a lot of great memories, but it definitely had to be winning league senior year. We ended a 37-year drought at San Clemente and finally earned our program some respect. Hopefully this is just the beginning of a long line of success for the program.
SCT: How did you become such a good shooter? Any tips?
JB: I became a good shooter through simply putting up countless shots over time. I have always had a basketball hoop in my backyard, so it was always easy to get shots up. Just putting my work in and developing a good shot was always my goal. I found that shooting was a strength of mine around middle school, so I really looked to work on it to make shooting a weapon of mine. Over my high school career, my coaches wanted me to shoot so that helped my confidence.
I feel that confidence in oneself is the biggest key. Whenever you take a shot, you have to visualize it going in, and you should never be afraid to take a shot either. If it is a good look, shoot the ball. If it does not go in, move on and make the next one.
SCT: Who is your Basketball Idol?
JB: Kobe Bryant. His work ethic and determination is unbelievable. I couldn’t believe it when he walked out on the court with a torn Achilles and made two free throws and then walked off on his own power. It definitely was one of the most inspirational things I had ever seen. Also, he is a tremendous player, one of the best of all time. It was a treat watching him play as I grew up.
SCT: Besides yourself, who do you attribute the success in your basketball career to?
JB: I attribute my success to my parents mostly. They were the ones who drove me to practices and games all these years and pushed me to be my best. They were my number one motivational figure. Also, my sister, who currently plays on the (San Clemente) varsity girls team believed in me and gave me confidence. I would also like to thank all of my high school coaches, who had the confidence in me to let me shoot the ball.