TJ Banks Transferring to Hillcrest High School
Travaris "TJ" Banks, a former Northridge standout, has announced his transfer to Hillcrest High School. Banks enrolled at Hillcrest on March 1 and will play for the Patriots in the fall of 2023. The new Patriot will join head coach James Mitchell and a Hillcrest team that has lost seven significant players who have all signed to play at the next level and will be led by a new quarterback.
Banks is rated as a four-star defensive back by 247 Sports and On3. When he played defense last season, he had 42 tackles and six pass breakups. Banks had over 1,200 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns on offense.
Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Maryland, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Florida, Florida State, and Austin Peay have all made offers to Banks. He hasn't visited Maryland, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, or Austin Peay. On3 has predicted Alabama as his final destination.
The decision to move from Northridge to cross-town rival Hillcrest was based on what his mother had felt was the best decision for his future.
“Not much on my part went into the process of me transferring to Hillcrest, my mom said we were moving pretty much what my mother says goes,” Banks said. “I know she always has my brother’s and I best interest at heart so I will never question her. Overall, it was/ is a family move and I plan to make the best of it.”
Banks is a gifted player who excels on both sides of the ball. On offense, he is a playmaker who makes players miss with the ball in his hands, has breakaway speed, has exceptional route-running skills, and has excellent hands to go up and make tough catches at the wide receiver position.
On defense, he is a defensive back who isn't afraid to get physical with anyone. Banks was covering 3-star tight end Jacorey Whitted when Northridge faced McAdory in late September, and he held his own against the 6-foot-7, 220-pounder. Banks has a good technique for his coverage skills and will make tackles.
Banks' decision was based on what his mother thought was best for him and his brother. As a result, when I asked him how difficult the decision was, he did not hesitate to respond.
“Not really a difficult decision because my mom didn’t ask me, she told me. I was kind of upset when she told me but after thinking about it for a few days I was fine,” said Banks.
Transitioning to a rival school might be difficult for some student-athletes. Banks' transition has gone smoothly for him because he will be playing with guys he knows.
“The transition has been smooth,” said Banks. “I’ve either went to Church, played little league football or basketball, 7v7, or trained with most of the team at one point in time so it was like a big family reunion. Coach Mitchell and his coaching staff welcomed my brother and I with open arms. Coach Mitchell has a lengthy coaching background where he’s been successful in every program, he’s coached several student-athletes that have went to play at the next level I’m ready to soak up all the knowledge that he has.”
Hillcrest had an 11-1 record last season. The Patriots had won the region and were on track to compete for the state title until their star quarterback, Ethan Crawford, suffered a season-ending knee injury. The Patriots were defeated in the second round by the Saraland Spartans.
Seven of Mitchell's players signed to play division one football on National Signing Day, adding to his reputation for helping athletes in going up to the next level. Banks wants to be the next name on that list, and he's ready for whatever the coaches have in store for him.
“We briefly talked about positions, cornerback and safety positions are open but just like any other player,” said Banks. “I will have to compete/work for it, and I like that about him. I got the playbook on my first day, so I’m confident that I’ll be ready.”
Hillcrest has long been regarded as one of the best programs in the area, if not the entire state. Mitchell has instilled that championship mindset in the school, and every year, a state championship is the aim. This is the same expectation Banks has for himself when he works out this offseason and when he lines up for the Patriots.
“My expectation going into next season with Hillcrest is to win a state championship,” said Banks. “Hillcrest has been a dominant program for several years everyone on the team has that dog mentality and wants to win and I like that… I’m working on getting stronger and faster this off-season I’ve been doing a lot of DB drills also.”
Banks has not yet revealed his college football destination, but he will make that announcement on June 18. That date holds a particular place in his heart because it is his late cousin's birthday. “We were like brothers, so I’ll be committing on his birthday.”
Last year, Hillcrest hoped to win a title, but things did not go as planned. This year, they have the same aspirations, and with the amount of talent returning and adding a player like TJ Banks, Hillcrest is a sure contender in 2023.