Banham named Big Ten Freshman of the Year

Minnesota’s star point guard was also named to the Big Ten Second Team.

by Betsy Helfand

Big Ten media and coaches named Gophers star Rachel Banham the conference’s Freshman of the Year on Monday, a day after Minnesota ended the Big Ten season with a 6-10 record.

Banham was also named to the Big Ten Second Team and to the All-Freshman team.

The 5-foot-9 point guard led the Gophers in scoring with 16.1 points per game in a team-high 34.2 minutes per game. She started all 30 games at point guard.

Her average of 16.1 points ranked seventh in the Big Ten. She also led the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage at .438 and was eighth in free-throw percentage at .818.

Banham ranked second on the Gophers in assists (2.6 per game) and steals (1.53 per game). Her 5.3 rebounds per game tied for second on the team.

She closed out the season by scoring in double-digits in 26 consecutive games. She failed to tally double-digit points in just two games this season.

Banham was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week five times throughout the season: Dec. 12, Dec. 26, Jan. 9, Jan. 16 and Jan. 31. She received this honor more than any other freshman in the conference.

She was also named Big Ten Player of the Week for the week of Jan. 9 after leading Minnesota to victories against Indiana and Northwestern.

She scored 47 points and grabbed 19 rebounds in the two wins while making seven of eight 3-pointers.

Banham and Iowa’s Samantha Logic were the only two unanimous All-Freshman Team selections. Logic averaged 9.1 points and 7.1 rebounds for the Hawkeyes.

Nebraska’s Emily Cady, Northwestern’s Morgan Jones and Michigan State’s Kiana Johnson rounded out the All-Freshman Team.

Of those four, Jones came closest to Banham in offensive production, as she averaged 14.1 points per game.

Banham’s honor was the second time a Gophers standout has been named Freshman of the Year. In 2002, Janel McCarville received the honor.

Minnesota senior Kiara Buford was named to the All-Big Ten Honorable Mention team, and senior Jackie Voigt was given the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award for the second year in a row.