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Penn State Basketball: For Banks, Success From Three Comes Down To The Little Things

by on January 17, 2017 2:45 PM

For all of the flashy plays and big time moments, it's so often the little details that make all the difference in sports.

Take for example Penn State forward Payton Banks, the Nittany Lions' best shooter from beyond the arc. A transition three specialist, Banks appears to take his time when the ball finally hits his hands. In a world where Steph Curry is launching shots up in milliseconds, Banks is out on the court going through a very simple process.

And one that at a clip of 39.7% seems to be working out just fine.

"I'll airball a shot and then make the next three,"Banks said deep in the Bryce Jordan Center this week. "I like taking my time. I like trying to find the seams on the ball, that's usually what it is, it's not usually me concentrating, it's just when I catch it I kind of want to feel out where the seams are because when I don't that's usually when I airball. If I get the seams on the ball like I have been, they usually go for me, so that's what I've been practicing."

The result has given Penn State its always elusive three-point specialist. Banks isn't the Big Ten's best from deep, but when he gets open Banks is more often than not, hitting his shot. The only problem now is that teams have started to key in on Penn State's transition deep threat which means adding one more step to the process, the occasional pump fake, something that made an appearance during Penn State's win over No. 24 Minnesota.

"The coaches actually have gone over it with me a lot because in scouting reports other teams are probably going to fly at me and Shep," Banks said.

"So literally the last couple of practices I haven't even gotten an open shot, coaches have just been flying at me from everywhere so I have to try and pump fake and get it off. Right after I made that shot we went in the huddle and Coach Condon was like 'it definitely pays off'"

And as always, four years on campus and another year to go has given Banks a unique perspective of the team's overall progress and process as the Nittany Lions try and climb up the Big Ten ranks. On a team full of youth and not a single senior, there is a tendency to look forward at what Penn State could do during the 2017-18 season.

But that's not how Banks sees it, in fact it's the exact opposite of the message he's preaching.

"I think since I've been here we always get stuck thinking about the next step," Banks said. "As a freshman I was thinking that I always have the next three years to go, and once you get into the position we are right now it's kind of like this is it. Obviously you saw with BT and Ross they played their very best basketball at the very end because they kind of knew that this was it for them, so I feel like if we get that now and we can get the young guys to do that we're going to be a really good team."

Does the message resonate? That remains to be seen, but at 3-2 in the Big Ten and nearly 4-1, the Nittany Lions are very much on the path of success in the present rather than success promised for the future. 

And as long as Banks keeps finding the seams, Penn State has a shot.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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