U of M women's basketball star Rachel Banham is the Big Ten Conference Player of the Year for 2015-16.
The Big Ten announced its season awards Monday and Banham, a senior from Lakeville, was named Player of the Year in votes by both the coaches and the media.
She was a unanimous choice as first-team All Big Ten. It's not entirely surprising in a season that saw Banham become the all-time career scoring leader in Big Ten women's basketball and break the conference record for most points in a game (The 60 she scored in that double overtime win over Northwestern also tied the national record.).
Banham has garnered some support for National Player of the Year. Her scoring average of 27.7 points per game leads the Big Ten and is second in the nation.
Banham also leads the Big Ten in three pointers. She ranks in the top five in steals and free throw percentage; the top 10 in three point percentage; and the top 15 in assists.
Banham's banner season follows a year in which a serious knee injury knocked her out of action for almost all of the 2014-15 season.
In her absence, Gopher center Amanda Zahui B. had a great season, being named Big 10 Player of the Year in the media vote, making this the second straight year the Minnesota women's team has had a conference player of the year.
Banham told the Big Ten Network that when she learned she'd won this year's award, her mom and dad topped her list of people to tell. Asked about Kobe Bryant – who's been giving her props on Twitter this month – Banham said he's further down on the list and said she has not yet messaged him directly.
Banham wasn't the only Gopher women's player recognized with a postseason award. Guard Carlie Wagner was named second-team all conference by both the coaches and the media. The Gophers' Shayne Mullaney was honored with a sportsmanship award.