Minnesota Lynx Acquire Former Gopher Rachel Banham from Connecticut Sun

(please credit: screenshot from WNBA on YouTube)

Another former Minnesota Golden Gophers player and Minnesota native is returning to her home state’s WNBA squad.

The Minnesota Lynx announced on Tuesday night that the organization acquired former Gophers standout Rachel Banham in a sign-and-trade with the Connecticut Sun. The trade will bring Banham to Minnesota in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2021 WNBA Draft.

“We are excited to welcome Rachel home to Minnesota,” Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve said in a statement from the team on Tuesday. “Her ability to shoot the ball is something we valued during this process and we look forward to having her in a Lynx uniform this season and beyond.”

Banham was introduced as the newest member of the organization at an exclusive member event for Lynx fans on Tuesday night in Minneapolis, with the official announcement from the team coming shortly after.

Banham entered the offseason as a restricted free agent, which is a reason why Minnesota and Connecticut ended up working out a sign-and-trade for the guard once the Sun decided to not match the Lynx’s offer to her.

“I couldn’t be happier to be coming home and be a member of this historic franchise,” Banham said in the statement. “Growing up a Lynx fan, I’ve always admired the way Cheryl and her staff have made the Lynx into a model franchise in the WNBA. I can’t wait to see everyone at Target Center this summer.”

The Lakeville North graduate, who will turn 27 in July, is the second former Gophers player and Minnesota native to return to Minnesota in the WNBA. The first, of course, is legendary point guard and current University of Minnesota women’s basketball coach Lindsay Whalen.

Banham will join the Lynx in 2020 after spending her first four WNBA seasons with Connecticut after being drafted fourth overall by the Sun in the 2016 WNBA Draft. In 107 games played, she has averaged four points, one rebound and one assist in 11.4 minutes per game throughout her career.

Along with those individual totals, Banham will bring some playoff experience back with her to Minnesota this season and beyond. In four seasons in the WNBA, she has made three trips to the postseason with the Sun, including a run as far as the WNBA Finals in 2019. In playoff action, she averaged 2.8 points in just under six minutes per game.

Many Minnesota basketball fans remember Banham from her impressive career with the Gophers leading up to the WNBA. During her time at the University of Minnesota, Banham became the Big Ten’s all-time leading scorer — among both men and women — with 3,093 career points. That total is the sixth-best total in NCAA history, with Banham being one of 11 players in NCAA history to surpass the 3,000 career point mark.

During her collegiate career, she also earned the 2016 Big Ten Player of the Year honor and still holds the school record with 354 career 3s.

Although she never really saw a ton of playing time in Connecticut during the first four years of her professional career, Banham will have the ability to jump right into the Lynx rotation and help bolster Minnesota’s lack of guard depth in 2020 and beyond.

Most notably, Banham has the ability to open things up offensive and hit shots from all over the floor. She holds career shooting marks of 36.4 percent from the field, 32.8 percent from beyond the arc and 81.1 percent from the free-throw line. This summer, she will have the chance to not only get more playing time but also boost the Lynx with her offensive ability right out of the gate.

Banham has been a familiar face to many Minnesota basketball fans throughout her basketball career. And in 2020, she will return back home to take the floor for her home state squad in the Lynx.

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