NORMAL, Ill. – New Mexico transfer forward Nick Banyard will continue his education and basketball career at Illinois State, head coach Dan Muller announced Monday. The 6-foot-8, 205-pound Banyard (pronounced BAN-yerd) signed with the Redbirds and will have two years of eligibility remaining, after sitting out during the upcoming 2014-15 season due to NCAA transfer rules.
“Nick is a tremendous athlete who will add size and skill to our frontcourt,” Muller said. “Next year will be great for Nick, in order to continue to improve his skill and athleticism while he is sitting out due to transfer rules. Nick is a hard worker who is a proven winner, and we are very excited about his future.”
A Flower Mound, Texas native and a two-time state champion at Marcus High School, Banyard played in 54 games over the last two seasons at New Mexico. He will be eligible to begin playing at Illinois State in 2015-16.
During UNM’s 2013-14 season, Banyard appeared in 24 games and exhibited a career-night with nine points – including five free throws – in 18 minutes during New Mexico’s victory over UAB, Nov. 21, 2013. The next day, he blocked a career-high four shots in 16 minutes against Massachusetts. Later in the season, Banyard’s thunderous dunk at the end of the first half set the tone for UNM’s nine-point win over in-state rival New Mexico State. New Mexico went on to win the Mountain West Conference Tournament and advance to the NCAA Tournament.
As a freshman in 2012-13, Banyard collected a career-best six rebounds in his collegiate debut during New Mexico’s season-opening win over Davidson, Nov. 13, 2012. He went on to play in 30 games, as the Lobos also won the Mountain West Conference Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2012-13.
Before beginning his collegiate basketball career in Albuquerque, N.M., Banyard lettered for four years in basketball at Marcus High School where he was teammates with former Oklahoma State standout and NBA prospect Marcus Smart. Banyard helped lead Marcus to records of 40-1 and 39-2 as a junior and a senior, respectively, winning back-to-back Texas 5A state titles.
For his efforts, Banyard was named an all-district and second-team all-state selection after his senior season in which Marcus was ranked No. 1 in the nation according to MaxPreps.com. Banyard was also a second-team all-district 8-5A pick as a junior after averaging eight points per game.
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