I'm sure we all know somebody who was given a lot of advantages in life, yet didn't really make much of them. Such would seem to be the case with Atlanta's SunTrust Banks (NYSE:STI) right now. While SunTrust's performance hasn't been bad per se, I would expect more of a company that is headquartered smack-dab in the midst of some of the nation's best banking markets.

Although SunTrust's targeted markets are above average, the bank's performance was more average. Revenue growth of 8% was respectable, but net income growth of 9% (after backing out merger-related expenses last year) was more pedestrian. Same goes for the company's return on assets and equity -- neither reached the level that I usually associate with top-notch banking performance.

Still, there was growth pretty much across the board. Net interest income was up about 4%, and non-interest income jumped 14%. This latter performance was achieved in the face of lower service charges, as the company saw more revenue from mortgage-related business and investment banking/commission operations.

The balance sheet also continues to grow -- at a price. Average loan balances rose 12%, with big jumps in real estate construction and mortgage lending (not a big surprise, given the ongoing housing boom in a lot of the Southeast). While total deposits rose more than 14%, consumer and commercial deposits were up just 4%, and low-cost deposits actually fell 5%. As a result, the company continues to turn to high-cost brokered deposits to fill the borrowing gap, and these balances rose 73% this quarter.

SunTrust is clearly not my favorite regional bank at this point, though I do think there's a lot of untapped potential here. And I'll freely admit to being somewhat biased; I own shares of BB&T (NYSE:BBT) and think it's a better option, along with some very small local banks that I've been scouting in the region. The trouble, though, is that I can't really recommend something purely on "potential," particularly when other banks like Citigroup (NYSE:C), BB&T, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), and Wachovia (NYSE:WB) may be better options.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson owns shares of BB&T, but has no financial interest in any other stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares). You can bank on the Fool's ironclad disclosure policy.