Shea High boys basketball senior DeJuan Hayes was practically raised on stories about Robert “Ubi” Griffin, the former St. Raphael standout who, until fairly recently, stood atop the mountain when it came to the R.I. Interscholastic League’s career scoring record.
“My mom (Latesha) went to St. Ray’s with Robert. I heard about him all the time,” said Hayes.
Griffin graduated from SRA in 1999 after amassing 2,471 points during his spellbinding high school career. His record stood for 21 years.
These days, Hayes calls himself a proud teammate of the state’s newly crowned all-time scoring king. The honor belongs to Shea’s Erickson Bans since the senior guard supplanted Griffin last Friday night at Pilgrim High School.
“Just being on the same team as someone who was capable of [passing Griffin] is amazing,” said Hayes.
Needing 29 points to officially etch his name on the first line of the scoring list, Bans went out and racked up 38 points while hitting 14-of-15 at the free-throw line against the Patriots. As someone who scored a career-high 57 points in a 2019 Division II playoff game against crosstown rival Tolman and popped for 49 points against Division I opponent Woonsocket this past December, Bans is no stranger when it comes to producing points at a high clip.
On many nights, getting 29 points has proven to be a drop in the bucket.
When it comes to discussing his place in R.I. high school basketball lore, Bans has always tried his best to downplay what he’s accomplished on an individual level. When you’re a known commodity in a small state, avoiding the media crush can prove to be next to impossible. Case in point, Shea head coach Steve DeMeo was inundated with TV interview requests in early January after Bans verbally committed to continuing his hoops career at Bryant University next season.
“The stations would call and Erickson would say that he didn’t want to do interviews,” said DeMeo. “What I ended up doing is telling [the television folks] to come during practice without him knowing it. He doesn’t like to be in the spotlight like that. Playing basketball is what he lives for.”
All Bans wants is to come to the gym, put forth an honest effort, and carry the Raiders on his back. He also wants to be part of the winning team when the final buzzer sounds. Talk about incredible vision for a mere 19-year-old.
When the Raiders hit the court last Friday against the Patriots, Bans was more concerned about slamming the brakes on Shea’s two-game losing streak than taking aim at a pretty significant milestone.
“Coach DeMeo told me I was close to breaking the record, but I wasn’t worried about that. I wanted to come out with the win,” said Bans.
The winning part of the equation didn’t come to fruition with Pilgrim netting a 92-90 win that checked off a lot of boxes when it came to pure entertainment value. Bans was nearly matched point-for-point by Patriots junior Tyriek Weeks, who ended up with 37 points and hit the game-winning free throws that snapped a 90-90 deadlock with 2.6 seconds remaining.
The word “bittersweet” was tossed around the Shea camp quite a bit after the Raiders dropped this close one on the same night that saw Bans officially become the state’s all-time scoring champ . Records are cause for celebration, yet Bans admitted to feeling a tad on the empty side due to the loss to Pilgrim.
“It would have been better if I broke the record and we won the game,” said Bans. “I wish we would have won, but things didn’t go as planned. On to the next one.”
When it comes to putting the ball into the hoop at a prodigious rate, Bans owns all the tricks. He can score off the dribble thanks to his blazing speed. He has the midrange game and can stroke it from deep. He’s close to automatic at the charity stripe. An underrated aspect of his game is his ability to pass the ball; a product of his court vision and timing allowing him to see things that not many others do.
Watch him enough times and you’re bound to see Bans do something that will make your jaw drop. He’s been making plays in a Shea uniform since the first day of his freshman season and has always produced at a high rate even as his teammates have continued to change.
“When you’re dealing with a guy who outworks everyone, it’s easy to root for him. The faces have changed and he’s just as consistent,” said DeMeo. “He just wants to be a good player.”
A good player who’s now a state record holder and someone who DeMeo can’t wait to see in a Bryant uniform. First things first as Bans wants to finish his Shea career with a winning taste in his mouth.
“The record is special, but I’m more worried about the rest of the season,” said Bans.