If he's in the post on the basketball court, defenses collapse on him like a house of cards.
On the football field for Lakes High School in Lakewood, Wash., Lancer ball-carriers line up single file to get behind Banner's 6-foot-9, 305-pound frame for a one-man escort toward the end zone.
Off the field and court, Banner continues to draw interest from some of the top colleges in the country.
Tuesday, he found out that both California and Washington - who have already offered him for football - can see him as a legitimate two-sport star. Both the Bears and Huskies have given Banner the choice to play both in college, which falls right in line with where he's at right now. To be able to play both, a player must be on football scholarship at the FBS level, simply because that's the first sport that is played during a school's academic year.
With two more years of high school to go, Banner doesn't want to have to choose between football and basketball right now. And he doesn't have to. Banner called up Scout.com from Desert Duel charity tournament in Phoenix - his last AAU stop of the summer - to talk hoops, football and his future.
"Las Vegas was my showcase for this year," Banner said of his AAU summer with Seattle Rotary. "I think that was my best tournament, depending on how we do here." He averaged 15-16 points a game in Sin City, scoring 21 points and 16 rebounds in the first round of the Fab48 against an all-star team from San Diego.
It's been these recent results that have pushed California and UW into the hoops forefront. Banner has also been contacted by UCLA for both sports, but only the Bruins' football coach, Rick Neuheisel, has pulled the trigger on a scholarship offer. Texas might also be in the mix too. "They called for basketball and I understand they are mighty interested in football," Banner said. "That's one of those schools (Lakes) coach (Dave) Miller talked about."
So is the success he's having so far this summer make him crave the hardwood even more? Or is he itching to get back on the football field asap? Banner, doing his best Yogi Berra, knows the answer. And the answer is yes.
"My best option is just to stick through high school until my senior year," he said. "And then we'll decide what I'm going to do in college then. But for right now I'm just trying to keep my options open. I'm playing elite basketball, I'm playing elite football…it's both, for now."
The bonus for Miller and Lakes basketball coach Jo Jo Rodriguez is that they get one of the most well-conditioned big men in the country. Not too many times you'll have 6-foot-9 athletes running stairs or working out with the sprinters, but that's Banner's M.O. It's the only way he knows how to work. He gets back from Phoenix Thursday, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him in the weight room late or at the track trying to get an evening workout in before starting his whole routine up again on Friday.
"The workouts I do, the conditioning for basketball keeps me in shape better than any football athlete," Banner said, who added that between his football and basketball work with trainer Brent Merritt, as well as his speed training and stairs, it's the equivalent of a two-a-day workout. "It's been proven. Just being in the weight room…I just need to make sure I get my shots up. That way I'm strong enough for football, but I can still shoot the basketball."
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