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Dan Devine

Marcus Banks would prefer walking runways to running the break

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Of all the players you've come across, who's been the biggest miss? Which players seemed to have everything going for them -- the athleticism, the talent, the chances, etc. -- but just never put it all together and, as a result, either burned out or faded away?

That's what moderator Malcolm Gladwell asked of the panelists during the morning session that kicked off the 2011 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, which centered on how the much-discussed "10,000 hour rule" that he introduced in his 2008 best-seller "Outliers"-- that the key to success in any field is the purposeful practice of a specific task for 10,000 hours -- relates to athletic development.

When his turn came, Houston Rockets general manager/Sloan co-chair Daryl Morey instantly referenced Marcus Banks(notes).

Coming out of UNLV, talent evaluators saw Banks as a gifted 6-foot-2 point guard "with speed, built like a running back -- really nothing holding him back," Morey said. But during a pre-draft interview conducted while Morey was working under Danny Ainge in the Boston Celtics' front office, Banks was asked what one thing he really wanted to do with his life.

Banks' immediate answer, according to Morey? "Be a male fashion model."

You might think that's a really odd answer, but keep in mind that this interview took place just two years after "Zoolander" came out, which Marcus Banks totally loved, as we all did. Driving jokes into the ground. It's so hot right now. Driving jokes into the ground.

Morey said the answer was his first indication that Banks might not have what it takes to go all the way, which ranks pretty high on the No Doy-o-meter. As Brendan Jackson noted at CelticsHub, however, Ainge must not have gotten the memo -- the Celtics selected Banks in the first round of the NBA Draft in 2003, but jettisoned him two years later after he (surprise, surprise) failed to develop in quite the way the team wanted. Banks has bounced around the league since without covering himself in glory, playing on six teams in an eight-year NBA career as a career reserve.

As for the other panelists:

ESPN NBA analyst and former Rockets/New York Knicks head coach Jeff Van Gundy clarified that he would consider only players that he coached. He chose Stromile Swift(notes), who was selected second overall in the awful 2000 NBA Draft and developed into "a serviceable player [who] made a lot of money, did well for himself," but "didn't love it as much as you would've hoped" and never maximized his prodigious athletic talents.

Athletes' Performance CEO Mark Verstegen said he's "seen a lot, because of what I do" -- his company provides high-end training programs and services to elite athletes -- and tabbed high-profile NFL busts Ryan Leaf and JaMarcus Russell, which elicited some laughter from Tuck, who also namechecked Russell.

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