The Texas men’s basketball team lost two more players on Wednesday when it was announced that Eric Davis Jr. is going pro and James Banks III is transferring.
Davis, a 6-3 junior guard, played in 26 games this season and averaged 8.8 points. However, his name was included in a wide-ranging Yahoo Sports report published Feb. 23 that alleged he took $1,500 from a sports agent.
UT officials withheld him from competition with three games left in the regular season to look into the matter. He was never cleared and missed the entire postseason.
Sources within the athletic department were unsure if the NCAA would allow Davis to ever play at UT again.
“While I looked forward to putting the unfortunate events at the end of last season behind me and continuing to pursue my goal of helping the Longhorns win an NCAA championship, I have deliberated with my family and have decided to get an early start on my professional career,” Davis said in a statement.
“My experience as a Longhorn has been everything that I could have ever hoped for,” Davis continued. “I am truly grateful to be a University of Texas student-athlete, and I want to thank Coach (Shaka) Smart, the coaching staff and the athletic department for all of their support and assistance with my growth academically, athletically and personally.”
Davis thanked his teammates, along with the students, alumni and fans “who made this journey so amazing!”
Banks, a 6-10 sophomore, was long admired for his athleticism. He played in 14 games this season and averaged 6.8 minutes. In late February when UT was desperately thin, Banks played four minutes against Oklahoma State and Kansas, 10 against West Virginia and six against Iowa State.
“I appreciate all of James’ work and effort over the past two years,” Smart said in a statement. “We wish James and his family all the best moving forward.”
In a statement, Banks said, “I would like to thank the University of Texas as well as my peers, teammates, coaches and Longhorn Nation for the last two years. You have helped me become the man I am today, both in character and athletics.”
Neither Davis nor Banks responded to an interview request from the American-Statesman. Smart was not made available.
With Davis and Banks leaving, Smart has now lost four players since the end of the season; Mo Bamba announced he was going pro, and Jacob Young is transferring.
It was well known Bamba was a one-and-done player. Young and Banks didn’t get many minutes for the majority of the season. Smart had no control over Davis’ situation; UT officials took over once it became a possible NCAA rules violation.
More roster spots are in flux. Smart couldn’t say for sure whether Andrew Jones (leukemia) will be cleared to return. Kerwin Roach II could leave if he believes his draft stock is high enough though he hasn’t hired an agent.
Texas signed four players in the current recruiting class, and a fifth, transfer guard Eli Mitrou-Long, is now eligible after sitting out one year per NCAA rules. The Horns are actively recruiting Courtney Ramey, a four-star guard from St. Louis. His recruitment could stretch into April, though.
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.