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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

AAU coach: Brianna Banks "in a good position"

Kim Davis-Powell of the powerhouse Essence AAU program is in Colorado Springs to watch four of her current players vie for spots on the U.S. junior national teams. But she is also providing advice and support to one of her former players.

Davis-Powell admitted that she was more than a little shocked when the mother of Brianna Banks told her that the rising senior was planning to transfer from UConn but since it was announced that Banks was leaving the program, Davis-Powell's phone has been blowing up and her email account has received plenty of incoming mail from coaches eager to have Banks play her senior season for them.

"Some schools who have shocked me have come out of the woodwork for a one-year player so I am excited for her and the possibilities," Davis-Powell said.

After a disappointing freshman season when Banks was nervous about her place on the team and played like it, she moved forward and was playing a key role during her sophomore season before she suffered a season-ending knee injury.

She had an up and down junior season. She played well early in the season when Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was out of the lineup but during the NCAA tournament barely played at all. There was a telling moment late in the first half of the game against Brigham Young when seniors Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson both had two fouls. Rather than give Banks, UConn's most experienced reserve guard, a chance to play out those final couple of minutes he kept either Dolson or Hartley on the court opening up the possibility that one of them could have picked up a third foul.

"It was a matter of after the injury she just didn't feel comfortable with herself as a player," Davis-Powell said. "She loves the program, loves Coach (Geno Auriemma), has learned a lot from Coach but she didn't feel comfortable with herself and just felt like she needed another environment to try to get comfortable."

So where is that going to be?

"Not really sure," Davis-Powell said. "I know a lot of people are saying she wants to get close to home, she may not end up close to home. Her mom has talked to her about 'what are you looking for, what are your goals and try to get somewhere where you can get what you are looking for and it may not be close to home. Schools from pretty much everywhere have called so I told her and her mom 'you are in a good position, keep working on your game and make a good decision.'"

Banks has proven that she is talented enough to play for any team in the country but it is the mental part of the game that was the issue at UConn at times.

"I think her confidence didn't come back because her sophomore year she did really well, I was so excited for her," Davis-Powell said. "Part of her wanted it to bounce right back and when it didn't, she is so hard on herself she went into a hole and couldn't climb out.

"I think a year off would help her with the mental part. She is a cerebral kid even though she is stone faced, she is taking it all in and hopefully she can get past all of those injuries and get back to where she wants to be."

Davis-Powell said a decision of the school Banks will land at will come "pretty soon, sooner rather than later."

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