Possessing tremendous athleticism, O'Bannon, who was Pitino's first recruit at U of L, often played passively on the court, despite scoring 562 points during his first three seasons and starting 21 games as a junior.
"He was just painfully shy and painfully quiet on the court," Pitino explained. "It's ok to be shy off the court but on the floor you can't be..you've got to be mean, tough and aggressive and let your presence be felt."
However, Pitino noticed some important changes in the 6-4, 200-pound O'Bannon's on-court personality during the summer and now predicts a productive 2004-05 campaign for the Louisville native as a result.
"His basketball personality has definitely changed and it's quite noticeable," Pitino said. "I expect him to have a very, very big senior year."
O'Bannon, who averaged 10.3 points last season and reached double-figures fifteen times, including a career-high 26 point performance on the road against Memphis to keep the Cardinals within striking distance of the Tigers while Francisco Garcia and Taquan Dean missed the game because of injury, believes his new found confidence is a product of lots of hard work in the gym.
"I've just had a surge of confidence that you find when you're in the gym constantly working hard on your game," O'Bannon explained. "I've finally put mind to going out there and just playing."
"When I first got here coach told me I was an athlete that hadn't become a basketball player yet," O'Bannon said. "Back then I really didn't know what he was talking about but now I do. I'm learning how to play the game and becoming more of a basketball player along with being an athlete."
An 80-percent career free throw shooter (O'Bannon made 80-of-93 free throws last season..ranking 30th nationally), O'Bannon's main goals this season revolve around helping his team win basketball games.
"I just want to do whatever I can to help the team win," O'Bannon said. "I want to play with more confidence and be more aggressive."