PAWTUCKET – Coaches here, coaches there … they all had Shea High basketball star Erickson Bans squarely in their sights.
Bryant University head coach Jared Grasso entered the Bans Sweepstakes and told the 19-year-old exactly what he wanted to hear.
“(Grasso) would text me every day … asking me what I want to do after college. I told him I wanted to go pro,” said Bans. “He told me if I went to (Bryant), he would make me a pro. He told me what no other coach had said. He was completely honest. The warmth of his words … not many coaches are going to say that right off the bat. With him, it was different.”
Sunday saw Bans decide to go public with his verbal commitment to the Bulldogs, a decision that he says was made back on Jan. 5. He will have to wait until April before signing his National Letter of Intent, though it’s clear the Shea senior is thrilled to be done with the recruiting process.
“It was stressful waking up every day wondering what school I’m going to go to,” said Bans. “That was hard, but (Grasso) made it a lot easier knowing how I felt.”
The Bulldogs are getting a player who owns the ability to score at all three levels and is always striving to get better. When Bans netted the 2,000th career point of his illustrious Raider career on Dec. 27, he called the milestone bittersweet because it came in a Shea loss to East Providence.
What Bans should be proud of is that he dictated his recruitment on his terms. He heard plenty of whispers that he should have left Shea for the prep-school route and reclassify from the Class of 2020 to 2021. Bans always believed that he could make the jump straight from the R.I. Interscholastic League to the NCAA Division I level. He just needed to find a college coach who believed in his vision.
“I wanted to avoid prep school. I feel I’m mentally and physically ready. I’m in the gym every day,” said Bans. “I wanted to go straight to college and begin a different journey.”
The dance between Bryant and the 5-foot-11, 160-pound Bans started last summer when Grasso checked out Bans on the AAU circuit with Expressions Elite. Bans checked out a Bryant game in early November and later that same month took his official visit to the Smithfield campus.
Things started to really heat up with the Bulldogs when associate head coach Brock Erickson checked out Bans the night he dropped 49 points on Woonsocket High on Dec. 23. This past Wednesday, Grasso was in the stands at Chariho High when Bans netted 35 points.
“Obviously every school’s goal is to bait the kid into going to college. From there, who knows if you’re going to play,” said Bans. “Talking to (Grasso), he made me feel like I was going to be one of his number one guys. He made me a priority. He told me if I come to (Bryant) that he’s going to expect a lot out of me as a freshman.”
When Bans phoned Shea head coach Steve DeMeo on Sunday night, the pair became emotional. Hofstra, Niagara were the D-I schools that were in the mix along with Division II schools Assumption and Saint Michael’s. In the end, the allure of Bryant was a feeling that Bans did not want to shake.
“He’s very proud that a public school kid, a city kid … if you put your mind to it and work hard, your dreams can come true,” said DeMeo. “He had his heart set on Bryant.”
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03