If Kyle Bankhead had a theme song that best described him, it would be Johnny Cash’s country rock classic, “I’ve Been Everywhere.” From 1999 to 2003, Bankhead was a member of the Gonzaga basketball team that saw him play in the NCAA Tournament every year he played for the team and ended his career with 169 three pointers made, seventh in the team’s history. After graduation, Kyle went across the pond to Germany to play professionally for a season. Between 2007 and 2015, Bankhead returned to the United States to join the coaching staff for the University of San Diego basketball team. His tenure ended when he decided to become the head coach of Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas for two seasons, where he coached 13 different Division I prospects to a 26-13 record last year.
And now Mr. Worldwide has found a home here on the UNCG campus, where he has been hired as the Director of Basketball Operations for the men’s basketball team. Director Bankhead talked about his decision to take the position.
“The opportunity to be around such a good basketball environment. I’ve known Coach [Wes] Miller for such a long time, I’ve known Mike Roberts for such a long time” Bankhead explained. “And speaking with them and them telling me about the situation out here, how they won the SoCon regular season championship last year, all that played a role in my decision to come out here and be on staff.”
Last season was one of the most successful seasons for the men’s basketball program in recent memory. Led by now departed seniors, RJ White and Diante Baldwin, the team ended the season at the top of the Southern Conference by the end of the regular season with a 25-10 record and a 14-4 in-conference record, and earned a spot in the N.I.T. tournament. Kyle discussed what he has seen from the players in his small sample size since he’s been hired.
“A great work ethic and a great culture is probably the biggest things to talk about right now. The staff feels like there is a lot of talent on this team, and we also feel like it’s important that this team has great team chemistry. I think the guys have a great work ethic, and a great culture has been developed by the staff and players. ”
For the past decade, Director Bankhead has been Coach Bankhead at the University of San Diego and at Sunrise Christian Academy. The former head and assistant coach talked about his experiences at both places and what took out from his time as a San Diego Toreros and as a Sunrise Buffalo.
“I think being at Sunrise was very important to my development. I got to be a head coach for two years which it’s not easy to find head coaching experience just because everyone wants to be a head coach, and there’s not a lot of opportunities to be a head coach. Sunrise Christian is a very high level prep situation, so it was good in that regards” Bankhead said. “It also allowed be to expand my contacts. I met so many people around the country from junior college coaches to prep coaches to, obviously, college coaches along the way, so it was a very good experience and I grew along the way.”
He also spoke highly about his eight years in San Diego.
“Being at the University of San Diego was a good experience. I was in the west coast conference which was a league that I played in, had been around a long time and was very familiar with, so it was a good experience. We had so ups and downs, we had going to the second round of the NCAA tournament to having a year where we only won six games to our last year there where he had a pretty darn good team…. It was an up and down experience, but it was something I learned a great deal from.”
Taking the lessons that he’s learned from coaching at Sunrise Christian and San Diego, as well as lessons learned playing at Gonzaga, Director Bankhead seems to be very excited cementing his feet here in Greensboro for a long time.
“I’ve been here not even a month, and I love it. It seems like a great city, great community. I saw clips of last year’s Spartan Madness which is really important for me to see the support that is around this campus and this community” he said. “I’ve been pretty impressed here, and I think there’s no doubt that if we are successful moving forward. It’s a place I can see myself for a long time.”
With Director Bankhead ready to settle down and get into his job here on the campus and Head Coach Wes Miller signing a new contract extension last week that will keep him on staff to June of 2022, the UNCG basketball team looks to have their foundation made sturdier with guiding hands.