St. Petersburg basketball stars Darius Banks, AJ Ford sign
St. Petersburg’s Darius Banks and AJ Ford, who helped the school’s boys basketball program reach the state semifinals in 2016 and the region final this past season, each signed with Division I-A colleges.
Banks, a four-star recruit, signed with James Madison. The 6-foot-4 guard picked the Dukes over Florida Gulf Coast and USF. Banks made his decision largely on the comfort level he had with James Madison coach Louis Rowe, a former standout with Lakewood 1990-92.
“Other coaches wanted to talk only about basketball and what it could do for me,” Banks said. “Coach Rowe was real with me, and it just helped knowing that he was from St. Petersburg.”
A four-year starter, Banks helped the Green Devils reach the region final every season during his career, as well as make the state semifinals in 2015 and the state championship game two years ago. He became the school’s all-time leading scorer in December before missing nearly two months with an ankle injury. He came back in time for the district tournament.
Ford, a 6-8 forward, signed with Richmond. His decision to join the Spiders broke family tradition. Older brothers Quincy and Sajon both went to Northwestern.
“I kind of wanted to create my own path,” Ford said. “I talked to my brothers about the recruiting process. For me, Richmond was like a family environment. “
Ford, who transferred from Gibbs last season, played a pivotal role in the Green Devils’ run to the state title game a year ago.