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Banks returns home

EX-FLAMES STAR APPEARS AT PAVILION

December 23, 2007

Whoosh! photo

Cedrick Banks, back home briefly from his team in Israel, attempts a half-court shot during an in-game promotion at the Pavilion.

During the final media timeout of UIC’s 97-58 thrashing of Howard on Saturday, the usual half-court promotion took place, but with a blast from the past.

Cedrick Banks, the Flames’ all-time leading scorer, strode onto the Pavilion court in an attempt to sink the shot. The left-hander clanked the half-courter off the rim, but left to cheers from adoring fans.

“It’s the first time I’m back for game,” said Banks, who came home from his team in Israel. “I finally made it.”

Banks plays for Maccabi Rishon LeZion, a Division I team in Israel. He is averaging 11.2 points, 1.9 assists and 2.0 steals per game. His team is currently on a four-week break before it returns to action in January.

“I like it there,” Banks said. “I like the environment. They treat me pretty well over there. It’s a different life.”

Banks’ best game came on Dec. 2 against Hapoel Gilboa/Afula when he poured in 24 points, including six three-pointers, and grabbed six rebounds.

Banks says there are little differences to the game in Israel compared to what is in the U.S., noting that the three-point line is back a little and they play with the trapezoid lane.

He occasionally gets some advice and encouragement from his former coach, Jimmy Collins.

“He just tells me to have fun, be safe and do what I do best,” Banks said.

Banks is not alone in Israel – he has a former running buddy with him. Armond Williams, who played the same four seasons at UIC that Banks did, is playing incredibly well with Division II Maccabi Shoham.

Williams ranks second in his division at 24.5 points per game and grabs 10.0 rebounds per contest. He recently led the league in scoring before dipping a bit.

File photo

Armond Williams

Williams had a season-high 40 points on 13-for-19 from the field (including two threes) to go with 12 rebounds against Hapoel Beer-Sheva on Nov. 27. He also had an 18-rebound game against Elizzur Maccabi Netanya on Nov. 6.

Banks and Williams teamed up to lead UIC an 80-45 record, two NCAA tournament berths and one NIT berth from 2001 to 2005.

Yet another former Flame has found his way in Israel. Forward Mike King, who played at UIC for two years (1995-97), is with Division II Hapoel Beer-Sheva. King is averaging 22.4 points per game, fourth in the division, and 11.0 rebounds per outing.

Taking a break from his tour of Israel, Banks said he was impressed with this season’s version of the Flames.

“They’re a pretty good,” Banks said. “I enjoyed watching them.”

In other recent news:
Flames get White Christmas (vs. Howard) (12/23/07)
Flames turned up in 2nd half (vs. Toledo) (12/20/07)
Blockbuster trilogy gives UIC win over DePaul (12/16/07)
One more stiff test for Flames (DePaul preview) (12/14/07)
Mayo nets another Player of the Week honor (12/11/07)
Mayo's home cooking serves Flames well (vs. Green Bay) (12/9/07)
Mayo, Flames fired up, take it out on Milwaukee (12/7/07)
Horizon play opens with mirror images (Milwaukee preview) (12/5/07)
Second-half avalanche buries Flames (at Illinois St.) (12/2/07)
Flames win Dailey game, win on road (vs. CMU, signings) (11/29/07)