Banzhaf leaving a lasting impression at CUA
Jason Banzhaf is undoubtedly one of the most accomplished athletes that Catholic University has ever seen. He's led the CUA men's basketball team throughout his four years as a dynamic scorer and rebounder and has been named an All-American on two occasions. However, what distinguishes Banzhaf the most, aside from his many accomplishments on the court, is his genuine love and dedication for the sport and his team.
Banzhaf started playing basketball in third grade, after watching his uncle play as a middle schooler in his hometown of Livingston, New Jersey. Jason knew from a young age that he loved the sport.
"I wanted to get into it as soon as I could because I knew I was really interested in it," Banzhaf says.
After playing throughout his elementary school years, Banzhaf went on to earn a spot with one of the most esteemed high school basketball programs in the country at Seton Hall Prep in West Orange, New Jersey. At a school known for continually turning out Division I prospects, Banzhaf shined as a varsity player for four years, two of which he was a starting forward.
Banzhaf played at Seton Hall Prep under legendary coach Bob Farrell who Jason describes as "a great leader and teacher of the game." In addition to basketball, Banzhaf also played baseball in high school, but ultimately he knew that he wanted to continue his career on the hardwood in college.
Although many top colleges showed interest, Banzhaf chose Catholic University for its academics along with the guaranteed time he would get on the court. "It was the one college I visited that felt the most like home to me," Banzhaf explains. "The campus was beautiful and the people were very hospitable. It was definitely the right decision."
CUA Head Men's Basketball Coach Steve Howes first heard about Banzhaf through one of his assistant coaches, who told him that Jay would be worth making a trip to see.
After watching his future star play, Howes knew that Banzhaf would be a positive addition to his program, and so he invited him to campus for a visit.
Howes recalls the trip Banzhaf took to the nation's capital fondly. "I remember when he came to visit that he had on a shirt and tie. It really stuck out because I had never had a recruit do that." Since that day, Banzhaf has continued to stand out.
Since arriving four years ago, Banzhaf has taken full advantage of the opportunities CUA has afforded him both on and off the court. He got the chance to play right away as a starter during his freshman year, and was named the Landmark Conference Rookie of the Year.
Following his sophomore year, Banzhaf was named to the NCAA Division III Mid-Atlantic All-Region team, the All-Landmark Conference first team, and the All-Academic team, all while maintaining a 3.36 grade point average.
Coach Howes calls Banzhaf an integral part of the team who has become increasingly more vocal in the past four years. "Jay has really grown and matured on and off the court. He has become a very dependable player."
Despite his many honors and awards, Banzhaf says the best part of playing basketball at CUA is his teammates. "They're my best friends at this school and the experience wouldn't be the same without these guys".
Off the court, Banzhaf says he likes to do pretty much anything that involves being with his friends and family. "It doesn't matter what I'm doing, as long as I'm surrounded with people that I care about."
A business major, Banzhaf has plans to try and continue to play basketball overseas following graduation. More recently, the Cardinals star reached yet another impressive milestone, scoring the 1700th point of his career and climbing to sixth on CUA's all-time scoring list.
With more yet to accomplish in the final few weeks of his basketball career, Banzhaf will leave Catholic with a deep appreciation for his team and the experience he has had here. "Playing basketball gives me a chance to escape from the demands of everyday life. It gives me a sense of comfort knowing I'm doing something I genuinely love."
Banzhaf and his CUA senior classmates will be honored on Saturday, February 19 when the Cardinals play host to Goucher inside the DuFour Center on Senior Night. Tip-off for the regular season finale is set for 7:30 p.m.
Story written by Tara Juliano '11