MINNEAPOLIS - Rachel Banham has called Minnesota home for most of her life, and has always been most comfortable playing basketball in her home state.
She was a high school star and state champion at Lakeville North, had a standout career at the University of Minnesota and came to the Minnesota Lynx two years ago after four seasons with the Connecticut Sun. It’s a path that’s very similar to current Gophers’ coach Lindsay Whalen.
Banham became another piece of a busy offseason for the Lynx earlier this week, signing with Minnesota for her third season. Lynx GM and Cheryl Reeve has had an offseason that includes bringing back Banham, Layshia Clarendon and getting one last run with Sylvia Fowles. The Lynx have also signed five-time All-Star Angel McCoughtry in free agency.
Banham is approaching the 2022 season seeking consistency, and playing with a chip on her shoulder.
"I’m super excited to be back. I’m really excited for this season because I’m just ready to step up as a basketball player, as a leader and just do all those things that Cheryl and I have talked about for hours on end," Banham said. I’m really blessed to be able to wear this jersey, I love representing my home state. Playing for this franchise, it’s absolutely the best franchise in our league without a doubt."
Banham is back for her third season with the Lynx. She’s played in 47 games over the last two seasons, with one start. She’s averaged five points and 1.6 assists over that stretch, but her impact isn’t always what you see on a stat sheet.
"I think everyone knows I’ve come to really count on Rachel. Rachel is very smart, very driven and we always say you want Rachel Banham on your team. I think every team in the league would say that because of what Rachel brings to the table, the complete package," Reeve said.
She also is getting ready for married life. Banham recently got engaged to long-time boyfriend and former Gophers’ men’s basketball standout Andre Hollins. The video went viral on social media.
Clarendon is back with the Lynx after playing in 21 games, starting 20, for Minnesota last season. The Lynx went 16-5 in those games. She averaged 10.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 5.7 assists in more than 25 minutes per game. She’s entering her 10th WNBA season.
The vision Reeve has for the Lynx is pretty clear with the offseason moves that have been made. The franchise has been to the WNBA Playoffs 10 straight seasons and won four championships. But they haven’t been to the finals since winning the WNBA title in 2017.
They want to send Fowles out a champion.
"Who does not want to win for Syl Fowles?'' Clarendon said. "And Angel. My motivation is for those two.''