Five-star power forward Paolo Banchero has committed to play for the Italian National Team, a source told Sportando.
Banchero, 2002, is one of the top college recruits in the 2021 class and has interest from more than 10 colleges as Duke, Gonzaga, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Baylor, Memphis, Michigan, Arizona, Kansas and Ohio State.
Banchero is a member of O’Dea High School (Seattle) and last season, as a sophomore, led his school to its first state tile since 2007.
The youngster had a dominant summer on the Nike EYBL where he averaged 23 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 2.5 blocks a game for Seattle Rotary. He considered reclassify from 2021 to 2021 but he decided to stay put in 2021, as he told USA Today.
“I’m staying put,” Banchero told USA Today Sports. “It was a family decision, and I didn’t want to do it unless my family was on board 100 percent and they weren’t all the way. At the end of the day, I feel like it’s the right decision for me.”
Banchero’s great-grandparents were Italian. His father Mario was tight end at Washington University while his mother, Ronda Smith, was a player for the Huskies ending his NCAA career as all-time leading scorer. She starred for the Seattle Reign in the defunct ABL and played short stints in the WNBA and overseas, retiring in 2002.
The Italian Federation started courting Banchero more than a year ago and thanks to FIP consultant Rick Fois, they convinced him to play for Italy’s National Team over USA. With Italy he will have the chance to play with NBA Draft prospect Nico Mannion who debuted in June 2018 with the National Team.
Banchero’s Italian passport is expected to arrive before the end of 2019, a source with the knowledge of the situation added to Sportando.