Paolo Banchero, NFL QB? Earlier than starring at Duke, high NBA Draft prospect had ‘first-round’ potential on soccer discipline

Earlier than being named one of many high prospects within the 2022 NBA Draft, earlier than the Last 4 run as a freshman at Duke, earlier than the McDonald’s All-American highschool basketball profession, Paolo Banchero was probably the greatest youth quarterbacks within the state of Washington .

Basketball and soccer are in Banchero’s blood. His mom, Rhonda, was a university basketball standout on the College of Washington. After leaving as the varsity’s all-time main scorer, she was chosen within the third spherical of the 2000 WNBA Draft. His father, Mario, met Rhonda whereas enjoying as a good finish for the Huskies soccer group.

These athletic genes made Banchero not solely a standout basketball participant, but in addition a freshman quarterback that helped O’Dea Excessive College win the state championship again in 2017. He dropped soccer after that season, deciding to deal with basketball full-time. Had he chosen otherwise, he might have been a high faculty quarterback.

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The proof is publicly accessible. Banchero’s center faculty and highschool soccer highlights are all accessible on Hudl, a web site that enables athletes to share highlights, stats and scores with recruiters, family and friends. His soccer profile was created in 2014, only a month after he turned 12 years outdated.

At the same time as a center schooler, Banchero’s expertise on the sector was apparent. His first Hudl video reveals a seventh-grader throwing bombs below a lightweight flurry of Seattle snow, outrunning total defenses and dodging tackles like a pint-sized Barry Sanders.

Owen Prentice, at the moment an offensive lineman on the College of Washington, performed alongside Banchero in center faculty and highschool. From a younger age, they competed towards a number of the greatest expertise within the nation.

“Snoop Dogg had a youth little league group, which he nonetheless does now. We performed them, did all that,” Prentice stated. “There was an everyday little league season, after which what’s referred to as FBU, which is a choose group for state.

“There is a event, and it narrowed right down to the Last 4 in Florida. I used to be on that group with Paolo, JT Tuimoloau, who in my class was the No. 1 soccer participant and a standout basketball participant, tons of future D-1 athletes. So far as quarterbacks, he was proper there on the high with the remainder of the blokes within the nation. “


Monte Kohler is a legend within the Washington highschool soccer group. He is been teaching at O’Dea Excessive College since 1985, successful 4 state championships.

Kohler has seen quite a few NFL gamers move by way of the hallways of O’Dea, together with Demetrius Dubose, Ray Corridor, Taylor Mays, Nate Burleson and Myles Gaskin. He is aware of skilled expertise when he sees it. He believes that Banchero was among the many greatest that he coached.

“Paolo was on that degree, for certain,” Kohler stated.

Kohler believes that if Banchero had stored up with soccer, not solely would he have been a five-star faculty recruit, he additionally would have been a shoo-in for the NFL.

“I feel he would have been a first-round draft selection. There isn’t any doubt,” Kohler stated. “He is put collectively. He is, no matter, 6-10, 250 [pounds]. It is not like he is a thin basketball participant. He is an athlete. “

Prentice agreed that Banchero had potential, however he was not fairly able to go that far.

“I would say it is a very daring assertion. It is not completely on the market, however I have no idea if I am able to make these claims,” ​​Prentice stated. “He undoubtedly had that potential, and I can see why coach Kohler is saying that. It doesn’t shock me. However from somebody who’s enjoying soccer, realistically, it is onerous to say.”

Prenticed paused for a second earlier than including, “It’s plausible that if he caught with soccer, he might have had a shot on the NFL.”

“He was all the time a lot taller and sooner and extra athletic than everybody. He all the time had actually good arm expertise. He was higher than simply measurement and velocity,” Prentice stated. “He was an excellent soccer participant. He undoubtedly might have gone far in soccer.”

Coach Kohler had by no means let freshmen play on O’Dea’s varsity soccer group previous to 2017. However the expertise of that class, led by Prentice and Banchero, pressured him to alter his coverage.

“Freshmen might be bodily prepared however not mentally prepared,” Kohler stated. “These children have been completely different. They have been particular. They’d seen the large lights, and nothing phased them.

“They have been actually good. They performed a nationwide championship sport [in middle school]a bunch of D-1 children. “

Banchero break up duties with a junior quarterback named Emonte Scott, incomes extra snaps because the season progressed.

“At the same time as a freshman, he was the perfect participant on the soccer discipline, the perfect athlete,” Kohler stated. “Possibly again then, he was 6-7, 220 [pounds], the quickest child on the sector. There have been a couple of runs and throws he made as a freshman that was like, ‘Wow, that is fairly wonderful.’

“He went to summer season camp with us and wasn’t that assured at that time, however by midseason, he knew, ‘I belong. I can do that. Give me the ball.'”

Kohler’s O’Dea groups featured a run-heavy offense, which made use of Banchero’s velocity. Banchero listed a 40-yard sprint time of 4.82 seconds on his Hudl profile, which is a tick slower than the 4.80 time that Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes recorded on the NFL Mix.

It didn’t take lengthy for Kohler to see how a lot sooner Banchero was than anybody else.

“He took the ball, prevented the sack and took off working. He outran everybody on the sector for a 30-yard landing,” Kohler stated. “I noticed he was the quickest child on the sector. He had that further gear.”

That velocity was much more obvious in Banchero’s center faculty video games.

“There was one sport in Utah. We turned over the ball at their 20-yard line. Some man picked it up, most likely had 20 yards on Paolo,” Kohler stated. “He chased him again to our 2- or 1-yard line and saved a landing. Earlier than he bought that loopy progress spurt, he was one of many quickest guys round.”

Banchero wasn’t only a runner. He might throw it, too. In his 10 video games at O’Dea, he accomplished 15-of-36 passes for 191 yards, three passing touchdowns, one speeding landing and one interception.

“There have been a few throws he made that have been particular as effectively the place he scrambled, got here again and threw a landing the opposite approach,” Kohler stated. “He might spin it – loopy. He was correct. He used to work out with a quarterback coach. He was a soccer participant. They’d work out a pair instances per week. It was not international to him.

“His mechanics, he’d be knowledgeable quarterback. That is how good he was. How he dealt with himself, how he moved within the pocket, his capacity, there is no doubt about it.”

“It was good to make use of him within the play motion sport, get him to roll out,” Prentice stated. “He might learn the sector and throw it. He had a really robust and correct arm. He nonetheless does. He would play flag soccer in highschool, and he nonetheless had it.”


After successful the state championship in 2017, Banchero determined to depart the sport that he had began enjoying as a six-year-old. His soccer coaches and teammates nonetheless tried to get him again on the sector.

“I knew it was inevitable. I assumed he was going to play yet one more 12 months. Freshman 12 months coming into sophomore 12 months, he was turning into a nationwide title [in basketball]”Kohler stated.

“I attempted to get him to come back again out his senior 12 months as a 3rd down quarterback. If he didn’t like what was on the market, he might simply take a knee so he would by no means get hit. As a result of he might throw, he was a freak the best way he threw the ball. “

Prentice remembers Banchero combating the choice to decide on basketball over soccer.

“I would say it was very shut. I wasn’t certain which sport he would choose,” Prentice stated. “There have been a couple of instances we tried to persuade him [to switch back to football]. He would brush it off and joke about it. All of us understood that is the best way he was going.

“I don’t suppose selecting was tremendous straightforward. I feel he actually favored enjoying soccer.”

Kohler nonetheless wonders what might have been.

“If Paolo had stayed in soccer, he would have been one of many high recruits within the nation,” Kohler stated. “Even at 6-10, in my thoughts, he might have performed on the subsequent degree.”

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