By Jamie Shaw and Jeff Bendel
The story of Desmond Bane’s recruitment was one directly from a feel-good movie. Going into his senior season at Seton Catholic (Richmond, Indiana) Bane had no D1 offers. He did have multiple D2 offers from St. Joseph (Indiana), Indiana Wesleyan, Saginaw Valley State, Grand Valley State, Ferris State, Hillsdale, and Florida Southern and had even taken two D2 official visits, however, no D1 school thought he was good enough.
That all changed after he stepped foot on the floor at Phenom Hoops’ 2015 Indiana Top 80 exposure event. Even then it was apparent to see this one was a high major prospect. After his performance Jamie Shaw wrote, “From the outset, Bane was on a mission. All he did all day was rebound, defend, and score. What more do you want in a kid? If it weren’t for the stellar play of his camp teammate, Kris Wilkes, Bane would have been the choice for camp MVP. Bane has a college ready frame, with great strength. He was comfortable handling the ball in the half court and was able to get downhill at will.”
To have been considered MVP of this camp would have been an impressive feat. Along with the aforementioned Kris Wilkes, some of the other camp participants were Jaren Jackson Jr., Aaron Henry, Kyle Guy, Sacha Stefanovic, Eugene German, Grant Gelon and others.
The appeal should be evident from the first glance. Perimeter prospects who are big, strong and possess a silky-smooth offensive arsenal simply do not grow on trees. Despite being widely unknown across the country, Desmond Bane encompasses all of those things at a supremely high level and is about to play himself into a NBA contract during his upcoming senior campaign at TCU.
Indiana is very much like North Carolina when it comes to the basketball landscape. A couple of the major cities almost oversaturate with player exposure, while the in-between cities get minimal love. College coaches flock to the big cities, and then look down on the players in the smaller cities with statements like “well who are they playing against?”
This type of statement happened with Bane as we sent multiple coaches by, coaches in leagues who were (and are) not ranked among the Top 15 in RPI Ranking by League, who passed on Bane because of his level of competition (hey, you can lead a horse to water, but we digress…).
Phenom Hoops’ Rick Lewis saw it in Bane as he went by to watch Seton Catholic in season, “Desmond Bane has excellent size accompanied with an outstanding attitude and work ethic on the court. He’s a great penetrator and finishes through contact. Simply put, he can get to the rim at any time. In addition, he can step out and knock down 3-pointers. He’s physically strong and would be a complete steal at the D1 level.”
Standing 6’5” and an athletic 210 pounds, Bane averaged 30 points, 11.5 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 3.2 blocks per game for his senior season. Finally, during his senior season these schools we sent by (and others) started coming around to offering Bane, as Air Force, Miami (OH), Ohio, Ball State, IUPUI, New Orleans, Winthrop, Northern Illinois and Purdue Fort Wayne all offered during his senior year. However, it was Jamie Dixon accepting the TCU job and needing a player late that got Bane to head off to TCU.
What a decision that ended up being for all involved, as things seemed to have worked out for Bane just as they should have. Through his three seasons there, Bane is averaging 11.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and shooting 42.8% from 3. He has a 122 offensive rating and 7.0 box plus minus. Not to mention Bane was invited to try out for the Team USA U19 team a couple of years ago.
Projecting Bane Forward By the Numbers
So, how has Bane fallen through the cracks and why isn’t he more discussed as a potential first-round selection? Well, being overlooked and underrated has become somewhat familiar territory for the 6-foot-6 wing but it only seems to fuel his fire.
He stepped on campus and was an immediate contributor as a freshman, but ultimately had to work for his current star-status. Bane has continually improved on his deficiencies, becoming a noticeably better shooter, rebounder, playmaker, and defender in each season at TCU. So, what does this mean going forward and how does he project in the NBA?
For starters, his usefulness as a non ball-dominant guard with size, production, and three-point shooting will ultimately get him on draft boards. Last season, Bane posted averages of 15.2 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 2.4 APG with shooting splits of 50.2/42.5/86.7, which should make him an elite prospect by basically any traditional measure.
Taking it a step further, Bane’s advanced numbers make him even more unique. He’s one of only five players since 2010 with box plus/minus of eight or higher, three-point percentage of 42 or higher, usage percentage of 20 or lower, and at least 1,300 minutes played. The other four are Jon Diebler, Pat Connaughton (Milwaukee Bucks), Demetrius Jackson (Philadelphia 76ers), and Gourgi Dieng (Minnesota Timberwolves). Of the five, Bane was easily the most prolific scorer, best perimeter defender, and least turnover prone.
There is a ton of intrigue with the 2020 NBA Draft and Bane looks poised to have another big year. He will get drafted, but don’t be surprised if he ends up vaulting himself into first-round consideration before next June.