PAWTUCKET – The press release that accompanied Thursday’s announcement of Shea High’s Erickson Bans, chosen as 2019-20 Gatorade Rhode Island Boys Basketball Player of the Year, included the statistical proof that enhanced the senior guard’s candidacy in the eyes of the selection committee.
To become a Gatorade POY, you can’t just be a standout when they’re keeping score. You need to excel in the classroom and display exemplary character when the scoreboard isn’t turned on. It wouldn’t matter how many state scoring records were set by Bans. In order to be a cut above everyone else, he needed to meet all of the Gatorade requirements.
It was the softer side of Bans that the Gatorade folks touched upon and Shea head coach Steve DeMeo gladly added more context to. For the past few springs, Bans has helped out as an assistant coach for Shea High School’s Unified basketball team. It hasn’t been a day-in, day-out commitment, yet whenever there was a break in his AAU basketball schedule with Expressions Elite, Bans was there to offer encouragement to those with disabilities.
“He gets along with the kids. They just love him. He actually exhibits more patience with those guys than his own teammates,” said DeMeo, who also coaches the Raiders’ Unified squad. “They give him their attention.”
By maintaining a weighted 3.44 grade-point-average, Bans checked off the scholastic box the Gatorade folks take just as seriously as how many points you end up scoring, which was the 6-foot-1, 170-pounder’s specialty.
Before Shea’s loss to Portsmouth in the Sweet 16 portion of the R.I. Open State Tournament, Bans averaged 30.1 ppg and six assists through 25 games. His top performance from this past season was the 49 points he hung on Woonsocket two days before Christmas. It qualified as breaking news whenever Bans scored less than 30 points.
“Erickson is a scary player to prepare for and to coach against,” said Portsmouth head coach Joe Occhi in a statement that was provided by Gatorade. “He has next-level quickness and unlimited shooting range when he gets going. He has the ability to click for 30-40 points in any game.”
The 2019-20 season was a historic one as Bans became the all-time leading scorer in R.I. Interscholastic League boys basketball history. He netted the 2,000th point of his career on Dec. 27 and kept on charging along until he surpassed the previous record holder the night of Feb. 23. Bans ended his historic career with 2,605 points with 787 of those points coming during his senior campaign.
“That’s an incredible feat,” said DeMeo. “Every team tried to shut him down whether it was double teaming him or trying to keep the ball away from him. That’s a heck of a lot of points.”
Bans became the first Shea High boys hoopster to claim the honor from Gatorade. He’s the first Raider athlete to receive kudos from Gatorade since former soccer standout Leandro Alves in 2014-15. Next month, he’s scheduled to sign his National Letter Intent to play his college ball at Bryant University.
The list of Gatorade Rhode Island Boys Basketball Player of the Year alums includes Cumberland native Tyler Kolek (2018-19, St. George’s School), Brycen Goodine, who recently to committed to join the Providence Friars (2017-18, St. Andrew’s School), Cole Swider (2016-17, St. Andrew’s School), Justin Mazzulla (2015-16, Bishop Hendricken High School), and Corey Daugherty (2014-15, Barrington High School).
“It’s well-deserved and good to see a public-school kid get it,” said DeMeo.
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03