Growing up in nearby, Lakeville, Minn., Rachel Banham knew she wanted to be a professional basketball player when she grew up. More specifically, she wanted to be a Minnesota Lynx player.
It was never a question of “If?” but “When?”
Banham has shared numerous pictures of her growing up donning an original Lynx jersey. The little girl from Lakeville new what her goal was, little did she know that someday, her dream would become a reality.
After starring at the University of Minnesota and setting a host of scoring records along the way, Banham spent the first four years of her WNBA career with the Connecticut Sun waiting for meaningful minutes.
Last winter, the opportunity for a fresh start finally game. With a need for shooters, Lynx Head Coach and General Manager Cheryl Reeve brought Banham home. She struck a deal with the Sun to acquire the restricted free agent.
“Her ability to shoot the ball is something we valued during this process,” Reeve said following the sign-and-trade deal. “We look forward to having her in a Lynx uniform this season and beyond.”
The feeling was mutual as Minnesota’s prodigal daughter returned home to the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
“This has been a dream of mine since I was a kid and can’t wait to play in front of all my family, friends, and fans,” Banham wrote as she shared the news on her social media channels. She was finally home.
The Lakeville North graduate had her new beginning. The 2020 WNBA season, while unprecedented, may have been Banham’s best season yet. Playing in 20 of the 22 games, Banham posted career-highs in points, assists, and minutes per game while helping the Lynx to the WNBA Semifinal Round in Bradenton, Fla.
The highlight of Banham’s breakout season came with her career-highs of 29 points and 10 assists while cashing seven three-pointers versus the Indiana Fever in the regular-season finale. Reeve wanted a shooter, so she got a shooter.
Banham’s impact on her new team extended far beyond the box score, though. It’s not hard to tell that her light-hearted humor and silliness is loved and embraced by the team. From goofy media day shots, to a couple of belly flops, to showing up at postgame media after her career-high game in a Dunder Mifflin t-shirt, she always finds a way to make someone smile or laugh. Banham has never been afraid to be herself, and that is what has made her loved by her teammates and fans alike (along with her impressive shooting).
Her first season in a Minnesota Lynx jersey has come to an end, though it felt like she had been with the team for years.
Banham’s dream became reality, and the Maroon Mamba is finally home.