Tip-Off Talk: A Q&A with the Head Coaches of HPU Men’s and Women’s Basketball

This story is featured in the Fall 2019 edition of the HPU Magazine. Discover below how HPU’s men’s and women’s basketball coaches are preparing for the year ahead.


What does the future of HPU Men’s Basketball look like?

Smith: The future looks bright because of our youth and the excitement over our new facility inside the Nido and Mariana Qubein Arena, Conference Center and Hotel. The anticipation of a new regime is also fueling us. We have five new players, including Othello Smith, who redshirted last year, and we’ve established a good recruiting base. The future is bright because of the level of talent we were able to recruit this past year. I’m really excited about these freshmen.

How much does the new Nido and Mariana Qubein Arena, Conference Center and Hotel play into that future?

Smith: It’s everything. While our current facility is nice, it only seats about 1,800 people. We’ve outgrown it. For where we want to go as an athletic department and as a basketball program in particular, the arena is going to be spectacular for recruiting and growing our fan base. It’s going to be a one-of-a-kind facility compared to basketball venues across the country. Everyone is talking about it and keeping up with the construction through live video and the renderings we’ve shared. It inspires the inquisitive student-athletes and has them asking, “What’s going on at High Point University?” It’s a major advantage for our team and our future.

How does the rest of the university play into the future of men’s basketball?

Smith: The transformation that has taken place under HPU President Nido Qubein has been remarkable. It’s amazing. That level of notoriety and that type of talk around the country gets people interested and eager to come see the campus. Every time I walk around campus, there is somebody touring seven days a week. The university has a lot to offer students from all aspects. President Qubein had the vision to first grow the infrastructure of the university, focusing on academics and different degree programs. Now, he’s expanded that vision to the city of High Point by leading downtown revitalization efforts, including High Point’s new BB&T Point baseball stadium and surrounding facilities. The future is bright for the city of High Point, which creates an even brighter future for High Point University.

 

 

What’s the outlook for the upcoming season of HPU Women’s Basketball?

Banbury: The future is promising because we already have the foundation of a good team. This team played together in the postseason during this past year, which helps us land recruits who can take us even further into postseason. That’s how we build a great program. We develop the talent we have, attract more talent and so on until we achieve that next-level recruitment. I also think our style of play is going to be very successful in the Big South.

In the big picture, what is the future of this women’s program?

Banbury: Big picture, our goal is to stay at the top of the Big South consistently. This conference doesn’t currently have a team that dominates and shows up at the top every year, which means it’s an opportunity for us to come in and take that honor. That’s our plan, and that’s what we’re going to do — stay on top.

How much does the new Nido and Mariana Qubein Arena, Conference Center and Hotel play into that future?

Banbury: The facility is going to be second-to-none. When we’re recruiting head-to-head against other schools and recruits arrive to campus, we can show them this brand new arena and everything that they’re looking for in a program. Starting now and going forward, all recruits we speak to are going to be playing in that arena. It gives us the confidence to go after top talent, and we see the immediate impact of the arena on recruits when we show it off.

You just arrived to campus and went through a recruiting process yourself to get here. That provides a unique perspective. What was it about HPU that attracted you?

Banbury: What they do for students here, not just student-athletes, amazes me. The academic development of this university is something that really appeals to both parents of recruits and the students. HPU offers something more than just basketball. For me, the basketball program already had the foundation to win. Throw that together with a university that focuses heavily on the student experience, and it’s an easy sell. It’s exciting. It’s also a major bonus that HPU is the most beautiful campus I’ve ever seen. You can look at pictures online all you want, but pictures don’t do it justice. Once I got to campus, it was just breathtaking.

 

 

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