Courtesy of Norfolk State Athletics
NORFOLK, Va. – Norfolk State men’s basketball stars Joe Bryant Jr. and Kris Bankston will return for the 2022-23 season, the pair announced this week.
Bankston and Bryant will use their fifth season of eligibility, granted by the NCAA due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are excited about the return of Joe Bryant and Kris Bankston,” NSU head coach Robert Jones said. “They were our two biggest recruits this offseason. Arguably one of the best duos in all of mid-major basketball, we are lucky to have them in green and gold. Behold!”
Both players played massive roles in leading NSU to its second consecutive MEAC championship and a 24-7 overall record, declaring for the 2022 NBA Draft while retaining their collegiate eligibility.
Bankston, after playing three years at Little Rock, averaged 11 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game with the Spartans last season to earn All-MEAC second-team honors. The 6-9 forward shot 71.1 percent from the field.
“Being at Norfolk State has been a dream come true. The camaraderie here is unmatched to any HBCU on the planet,” Bankston said. “It’s always been a dream of mine to play basketball on the professional level. I would like to thank everyone who has helped me develop and grow into the player I am today. But we have unfinished business.”
A Norfolk native, Bryant has spent his entire career with the Spartans, eclipsing the 1,000-career point mark last season. Bryant posted 16.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game his senior season, earning MEAC Player of the Year and MEAC Tournament MVP honors for the second year in a row.
“Four years ago, I couldn’t have imagined all that I’ve experienced here,” Bryant said. “The ups and downs, the friendships on and off the court, and the championships. Playing pro basketball has definitely been my dream since I was young, but before that time comes, I have more I want to accomplish.”
NSU is slated to return four starters and 11 letterwinners from last season’s team.