An untimely Uber ride and glimpses of potential — a look into the week of James Banks (2024)

Not every ride in an Uber can be a five-star experience, but in the case of a particular Uber ride that James Banks took this week, well … let’s just say a three-star Uber ride can make for a hysterical and slightly stressful story.

In every form of the word, Banks’ entire Tuesday was as crazy as the Uber ride he took that day.


His day didn’t start out that way. It started out like any other Tuesday. He got up, went to class and then went to a workout. But around 2 p.m., his phone started buzzing. While Banks wasn’t around to answer it, the phone rang on with calls and texts flying in. Once Banks finally retrieved his phone after he ended his workout, many of the messages were from Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner.

Once Banks returned Pastner’s call, the conversation, according to Banks, went a little something like this:

“James, you are cleared. Do you want to play?” Banks recalled Pastner saying.

“Do I want to play?” Banks replied, his voice rising in excitement. “Is that even an option? Yeah. Coach, let’s get the wheels moving.”

After much deliberation, the NCAA cleared Banks to begin playing immediately for the Yellow Jackets. Banks is a transfer from Texas and had petitioned to the NCAA to have his required year off waved. It was actually the Yellow Jackets’ second attempt to have Banks see time on the floor this season after the first petition was denied.

“It came back to us the first time, and they weren’t going to let me play, and basically the guys in compliance said, ‘You know what? That’s not right. We feel like we have a lot of stuff that we can emphasize and bring to their attention,’ ” Banks said. “We knew that around Tuesday would be the time when we would be hearing back.”

And like clockwork, Tuesday it was.

From the moment Banks finished his conversation with Pastner, the day started moving at a much quicker pace because the team was already in Knoxville, Tennessee, after leaving Atlanta on Monday afternoon for a game against No. 5 Tennessee on Tuesday night.

“After that it was boom, boom, boom,” Banks said. “I had to hightail it over here to Zelnak (Basketball Center) to get my actual stuff to play — my jersey, my shoes, my tights. I had to get all of that stuff together, and I had to do all of that stuff on my own. I was FaceTiming guys, going through the checklist. ‘Do I have this? Do I have that?’ ‘See if you can find those. Hopefully we have some socks here.’ ”


Then, Banks hopped in a car with Bret Cowley (quite possibly the unsung hero of the day) from the compliance office, and the two made the trek to the airport — an actual trek considering the amount of traffic that day.Banks joked that he was the final person to board the plane because of the traffic on I-85.

But much to his relief, the flight from Atlanta to Knoxville took less than an hour. Hopping off the plane, he jumped in an Uber to get from the airport to the team’s hotel, and he had an hour to get there before the team left for the arena.

Enter Banks’ Uber driver— and if Banks is the hero of this tale, the Uber driver is the jester. As much as Banks was in a rush to get to his team, his Uber driver, well, … wasn’t, stopping at a Sonic drive-thru on the wayto grab some food for himself.

“I guess this is the life we are living right now,” Banks remembered thinking from the backseat of the Uber.

But through all the twists and turns of that day (and stops at Sonic), Banks made it in time. Against Tennessee, Banks played 16 minutes, scored five points and grabbed seven rebounds before fouling out.

Now with the events of Tuesday behind him, Banks again played 16 minutes Friday night in Georgia Tech’s 79-54 rout of East Carolina. He finished the night much like Tuesday, with five points and six rebounds. Only on Friday night, he didn’t foul out.

The addition of Banks to this Georgia Tech roster is one that presents Pastner with many new opportunities. Along with fellow bigs Abdoulaye Gueye, Moses Wright, Sylvester Ogbonda and (when he returns from an ankle injury) Evan Cole, the Yellow Jackets aren’t hurting for size down low.

Pastner said that Banks is going to be a shot-altering presence. He already has shown that with multiple blocked shots in his two games with the Yellow Jackets, but the key for him moving forward goes hand-in-hand with becoming more comfortable on the floor.


“James does a lot for us defensively,” Pastner said. “He has to be better offensively, and that is just going to take some more skill work, but I thought he did a lot of good and affected a lot of the game (against Tennessee). He has to stay clean, crisp, and he has to play mature. He doesn’t need to play sloppy, and we are constantly on him that he needs to remain clean, crisp and mature.”

On Friday night, there were glimpses of that sloppy play, a ball batted away here, a pesky foul there. But Friday night also showed what Banks’ presence could add to this roster in 2018: a beauty of a blocked shot in the second half and a nice assist from the elbow to a cutting Jose Alvarado, who put in a contested layup. For even a few minutes in the second half, Pastner had Banks, Wright and Gueye in the game at once, creating a much larger presence in the lane for shot-blocking and rebounding. When that specific group was in, there was very little the Pirates could do in the paint on offense.

The 6-foot-9 Banks, who is a junior, adds even more size and athleticism to a group of post players that is already poised with both, but Pastner said there is still a long way to go for Banks and this Yellow Jackets offense. Pastner, however, believes that offensive production will come as the season progresses, but right now, at least for Banks, the focus is on what he can do defensively.

“He’s more productive by the basket, but he will be all over the floor,” Pastner said of how he plans to use Banks. “The main thing for us right now is him defensively. It’s shot-blocking and rebounding.”

Those are things Banks has shown he has the ability to do consistently with three blocks and six rebounds Friday night. At the end of the day and at the beginning of his career at Georgia Tech, Banks’ play isn’t perfect and at times, yes, a little out of control, but the potential is there. Now, all Banks needs is time to nurture that potential.

As long as another Uber ride doesn’t stand in his way.

(Photo ofJames Banks: Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics)

An untimely Uber ride and glimpses of potential — a look into the week of James Banks (2024)


When you reserve an Uber are you guaranteed a ride? ›

Your trip request is only confirmed once you have received your journey details. However, your driver remains free to cancel your trip request. In this case, the trip request will be offered to another nearby driver. Please note that Uber cannot guarantee that a driver will accept your trip request.

What factors affect the price of an Uber or taxi ride? ›

How are prices determined? Many data points go into calculating an upfront price, including the estimated trip time and distance from origin to destination, as well as demand patterns for that route at that time.

What happens when you reserve a ride on Uber? ›

What makes an Uber Reserve trip different to other trips? An Uber Reserve trip can be reserved and a driver assigned up to 7 days in advance. You will see the trip fare when deciding whether to confirm the Reservation, the fare is then locked and will not change.

Is it a good idea to reserve an Uber in advance? ›

There is no difference in the pricing between normal Uber rides and scheduled rides – that means no extra cost for booking your Uber in advance! However, pricing is based on demand at the time of your order, so if you reserve at peak-hour traffic your ride might be a little more expensive.

What is the inconvenience fee for Uber? ›

In some cases, you may be eligible for an inconvenience fee of up to $250 based on the extent and nature of the damage. We may also be able to assist you with an insurance claim.

What are the disadvantages of Uber? ›

Disadvantages of Uber

Uber has become a prime example of the gig economy at work. Its workers are generally not guaranteed a minimum wage, they have to supply and maintain their own vehicles, and have few if any benefits. Some Uber drivers say they struggle to earn even a minimum wage once Uber takes its cut.

Why is Uber so expensive in 2024? ›

For years, Uber used money from the likes of Goldman Sachs, BlackRock, and Jeff Bezos to subsidize cheap rides and decent pay. But now that Uber dominates the market, its investors are demanding their cut. So, Uber has jacked up fares and cut driver pay.

Is reserving a ride on Uber reliable? ›

Uber doesn't guarantee that a driver will accept your ride request. Your ride is confirmed once you receive your driver details. **Reserve trips made in advance are subject to a cancellation fee. You can cancel at no charge up to 60 minutes before your reservation pick-up time.

What if Uber can't find a driver for a scheduled ride? ›

Scheduling a ride in advance doesn't guarantee you'll be connected with a driver. We'll notify you in the rare case you're not connected with a driver. Dynamic pricing may be in effect at the time of your ride. We'll let you know if your price has changed.

How does reserve work for Uber? ›

Uber Reserve¹ allows you to take trips scheduled in advance, you'll receive Reserve requests up to 7 days before the pickup time allowing you to plan your week. You'll know the trip details before confirming the reservation, so you can pick the trips that suit your schedule.

Can an Uber driver cancel a scheduled ride? ›

As is always the case, riders and drivers can cancel a trip for any reason. Please note that failure to comply with Uber's policies (including Community Guidelines) may result in a driver canceling and a rider being charged a cancellation fee.

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