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Tuesday, July 8, 2003



For the second time since February, former Bergen Catholic basketball star Sean Banks has run afoul of the law.

This time, Banks is accused of using a lighted cigarette to burn a gang insignia onto a teenage girl's leg late last month in Englewood.

City police arrested Banks, 18, at Mackay Park on Sunday, a week after the 15-year-old's mother told police her daughter was burned in a "gang initiation," Detective Lt. Steven Sabo said. Banks was charged with aggravated assault with a weapon and endangering the welfare of a child.

Banks - who is headed to the University of Memphis this fall on a basketball scholarship - used the cigarette to burn three circles, in the form of a triangle, near the girl's right ankle June 22, her mother told police. Afterward, she limped home, police said.

The three circles - called "dog paws" - are commonly associated with The Bloods, said Bergen County police Detective Alan Brundage, a gang investigator.

"Anybody who deals with gangs knows that's a Blood insignia," Brundage said. County police have said Banks was "associated" with a local gang related to The Bloods.

"It's kind of a rite of passage," he said.

It was unclear whether there were any other people present or the victim resisted, police said. "At this point, it doesn't appear that there was a struggle," Sabo said.

Banks, who posted $5,000 bail Monday and was released from the Bergen County Jail, is the all-time leading scorer at Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell, and was ranked among the nation's top-25 college recruits. The 6-foot-8-inch, 205 pound forward guided the Crusaders to a Parochial A State Championship in 2002 and a Bergen County Jamboree title in 2001.

But Bergen Catholic won the county title without him this year, when he was suspended for four games after a run-in with police.

Banks pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and paid a $100 fine in March after he was in a car that twice tried to elude county police in a chase along Route 4, police said. When the car slid into a snowbank in Teaneck, Banks and three other teens attempted to flee.

At the time, county police said they believed Banks and the others were involved with a local gang called The Outlaws.

The Record's 2002 North Jersey Player of the Year, Banks' first game back was against Don Bosco in the state tournament. Bergen Catholic advanced to the Parochial A State final against Camden Catholic and lost.

Since February, Banks seemed to be trying to improve his studies, said Bergen Catholic Coach Joe Dionisio, who wouldn't comment Monday on Banks' arrest.

"Sean has been trying to get himself straightened out academically," Dionisio said. "The Memphis people have placed him in situations to improve his grades. They have been carrying that ball."

Early last month, Banks - who lives with his grandmother in Hackensack - attended the graduation ceremonies at Bergen Catholic. It is not known if he received a diploma because the school does not release academic information about students.

In late May and June, Banks took a math and English class at Notre Dame Prep School in Fitchburg, Mass., passed both, and left the school in late June, said Bill Barton, the school's basketball coach.

"I found him to be a good kid," Barton said. "I knew he had been in some trouble before, and he told me he had been in trouble and the gang stuff came up, but he said he wasn't involved in any of that."

Memphis basketball officials could not be reached Monday for comment.

Staff Writer Dan Rosen contributed to this article.

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Don't you find this quote a little interesting ....

"In late May and June, Banks took a math and English class at Notre Dame Prep School in Fitchburg, Mass., passed both, and left the school in late June, said Bill Barton, the school's basketball coach."

I don't know about you guys, but I can't recall where a full "class" lasted (according to this) two months. He took both a math and English class in this time and passed both. Sounds a little closer to the Ricky Clemons stuff with Southern Idaho and all that.

Also the article talks about Memphis people doing all they can to put Banks in situations to improve his grades. Another interesting item, eh?!?! I suspect this is a PhD in the making later down the line. Gangs. School transfers. Criminal records. The typical American basketball success story.

I'll bet he can't even spell N-B-D-L.

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Sadly this stuff goes on all the time. ESPN had an article a year or two about a "prep school" that does these alternative education curriculum for only basketball players that want to minimize their time in a classroom. Maybe someone else can provide the link.

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Calipari apparently has been working on his Vegas act and is now doing Jerry Tarkanian impersonations.

Also his quote about his kids at UMass never getting into trouble is a lie: 2 players and a visiting recruit (less than 2 hours off the bus) were arrested for breaking and entering during his first year.


Calipari unfazed by Banks arrest

Friday, July 11, 2003



HACKENSACK - Memphis coach John Calipari still has high hopes for Sean Banks as an incoming freshman.

Calipari said he believes the former Bergen Catholic standout forward can turn his life around once he gets to college and become not only a better basketball player but a person who makes better life decisions.

"I just saw one of his teammates this morning, and he said [banks] was a great kid," Calipari said Thursday at ABCD Camp. "People can paint me or anybody else how they want, we just need to get him down there and get him started, because I think he'll be fine."

Banks was arrested July 6 for a third time this year. He's accused of using a lighted cigarette to burn a gang insignia onto a teenage girl's leg late last month in Englewood. Banks posted $5,000 bail Monday and was released from the Bergen County Jail.

Calipari said he hadn't talked to Banks since he arrived in town Thursday morning. He also said that he's only read in the newspaper of Banks' latest arrest, so he wouldn't comment directly on it.

"That's what has been written, but I don't know that to be anything," Calipari said. "We're just trying to get him on our campus, and get him started with structure. I think he's a great kid, and once he's out of the environment, we can get him started.

"He's a little rough around the edges, but I'm not worried about that if he is a good kid," the coach added. "He may not have the structure or discipline [here], but you can get that. If you're an evil dude, I can't do anything."

The coach, formerly of the Nets, appears confident in his ability to aid Banks in getting straightened out. He didn't hesitate to back up his confidence.

"We graduated three of our four seniors this year, and next year our two juniors are in line to graduate. When I took over it was a zero percent graduation rate," Calipari said. "When I was at UMass, I took over a program that had a 15 percent graduation rate, and when I left it was 80 percent. You never heard of our guys getting in trouble there, or [at Memphis], but you have to get them there first."

Calipari also said he's not worried of the repercussions that could come from Banks' latest arrest, again confirming that he will be at Memphis this year. Calipari, though, said he wasn't sure when Banks would arrive on campus.

Banks had completed two courses - math and English - at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass., before his latest arrest, and from what Calipari has heard, he should be eligible in the fall. Bill Barton, the prep school's basketball coach, said earlier this week that Banks passed both courses.

E-mail: [email protected]

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