Rachel Banham admitted she had nerves entering the College 3-Point Championships on Thursday, but once she got warmed up, her shot was as sharp as
The guard, competing for the last time in a Minnesota uniform, defeated Kelsey Minato of Army to win the women’s competition, before emerging victorious in a head-to-head with Georgia Tech’s Adam Smith.
“I was pretty nervous for both of them, but I really wanted to beat the guy,” Banham said.
The 3-Point Championships were the start of a busy week and a half for the Lakeville, Minn., native, who leaves for Los Angeles on Wednesday to take part in the ESPN College Basketball Awards Show.
The awards ceremony takes place on Friday, and Banham is one of five women’s players who will attend and be honored as John R. Wooden Award All-Americans.
The following Monday she leaves for the WNBA Draft, which will take place on April 14.
She is projected to be a top-five pick by Excelle Sports and draftsite.com.
“I’m super excited, and it’s going to be really great. And I’m definitely ready; it’s just crazy how fast it’s happening,” Banham said. “I feel like the season just ended yesterday, and I’m already off to the next level.”
The Gophers season ended on March 20 in the second round of the WNIT.
Despite Banham’s stellar senior year, Minnesota did not make the NCAA tournament, and her career ended without playing in an NCAA game.
“It was really hard to watch the tournament right away, the first couple rounds,” Banham said. “I [didn’t] feel like watching them. I was kind of salty. But, obviously, I’m over it now, and I’ve been watching it a lot.”
Banham has also been preparing for the draft and said she’s already talked to two WNBA head coaches and expects to talk to more.
She said at least one coach has given her insight about what they expect from rookies at training camp so she can come in prepared.
“I’m really focused on my defense because I’ve been playing zone, and in the league, they play man-to-man,” she said. “They’re fast, and they’re not going to go easy on me, so I just need to move my feet.”