Bannerman picks Davidson for academics, basketball
When picking a college, Hampshire senior Kelby Bannerman said she was not making a four-year decision, she was making a 40-year decision.
"I find that to be incredibly mature," Whip-Purs coach Eric Samuelson said. "I'm really proud of her. She really made her decision on academics as well as basketball."
Bannerman, a 6-foot-1 forward with a well-rounded game, visited Davidson in early June and decided to become a Wildcat over other Division I schools including the Naval Academy, Air Force and Buffalo.
Davidson might be the home of NBA superstar Steph Curry. But it is Bannerman's desire to become a surgeon someday and the school's ability to prepare her for that career that sold her on the North Carolina school in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
"I picked Davidson because I liked their academics," Bannerman said. "The campus was really pretty. I wanted to prioritize my school work and still be able to play basketball. I liked the coaches a lot. The energy was really cool, everyone was super welcoming even though campus wasn't open."
Bannerman, a three-time All-Area selection, has increased her numbers every year, going from 10.5 ppg as a freshman to 12.3 last year and 16.4 this past season. She's also an excellent rebounder who pulled down 10.7 a game this year.
Samuelson said he's already told Bannerman he would like to see her lead the Whip-Purs in assists as a senior.
"Her energy level, her intelligence and her desire to get better will translate well (in college)," Samuelson said. "She will put in whatever work is required both athletically and academically to be successful at the next level.
"She has the ability to put the ball in the hole but now she's committed I've told her her final high school season needs to be about being a great team leader and not just scoring. She has that pressure off her now."
Bannerman comes from an athletic family. Her mother Michelle played basketball at Northern Arizona University and her father Robert played soccer and hockey. Her younger brother Bryce is a sophomore in soccer and track, and her grandparents are a fixture at center court for her games.
Playing basketball since she was 5, Bannerman said she quickly began playing against older kids and dreaming big.
"I had a goal of playing Division I basketball since I was in third grade," Bannerman said. "I've always wanted to be the best in the gym and play at the next level. I love basketball and have put a lot of time and effort in and sacrificed a lot. I want to continue to use it to get myself a really good education. Basketball has given me a lot of fun times."
Bannerman said her college coaches see her as a stretch four. She is preparing to play whatever role that's needed.
Involved in Relay For Life. Fellowship for Christian Athletes and a National Honor Society member in high school, Bannerman is also looking forward to the academic challenges in college.
"I have a healthy balance with basketball, academics, clubs and school work and spend a lot of time with my family," Bannerman said. "I knew Davidson was at the top of the list for awhile. It was a process of making sure that was the right decision."