March 3, 2014
University of Minnesota redshirt freshman Amanda Zahui B. was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, and junior Rachel Banham was a unanimous pick for the All-Big Ten First Team by both coaches and media when the Big Ten Conference announced its yearly award winners Monday.
Along with being honored as the league's rookie of the year, Zahui was also voted First Team All-Big Ten by media, Second Team All-Big Ten by the league's head coaches, Defensive All-Big Ten and was a unanimous selection to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team.
Zahui collected Freshman of the Year honors after averaging a double-double this season with 15.4 points and a conference-best 11.5 rebounds per game in league only contests, while also averaging 15.1 points and 11.3 rebounds in all games played. She finished second in the Big Ten in blocked shots, tallying 2.9 blocks per contest, and holds Minnesota's single-season record with a total of 83 blocks on the year.
Zahui was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week seven times this season and Big Ten Player of the Week four times during the year. She is the third player in Gopher history to win Freshman of the Year honors and second in the last three years, following Banham in 2012.
Banham earned first-team accolades for the second-straight season after securing the Big Ten scoring title with her 23.3 points-per-game average in conference only games. She becomes the first Gopher since Carol Ann Shudlick in 1993 to earn the distinction and only the third all-time, while her average is the highest since Penn State's Kelly Mazzante averaged 25.1 points per game in 2002. In all games played, Banham also leads the Big Ten with a scoring average of 22.4 points per game.
The guard leads the Big Ten with 19 games scoring 20 or more points and five games scoring 30 or more points this season, while she has been named to the Naismith Trophy Midseason Top 30, the Wooden Award Midseason Top 20 and the Wade Trophy Watch List. Banham is also on the watch list for the Dawn Staley Award, which is bestowed upon the best guard in the nation.
Banham ranks fourth all-time at Minnesota with 1,892 career points, and needs just 108 points to become the fourth Gopher in program history to score 2,000 points in her career.
In addition, senior Sari Noga was named Minnesota's recipient of the Big Ten's Sportsmanship Award. Recipients are student-athletes who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. In addition, they must be in good academic standing and have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting.
Game Preview: Detroit Mercy
Minnesota looks to get back on track against the Titans on Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Courtside with Kenisha Bell
The Gophers assists leader and one of the team's top scorers, Bell has returned to the court where she played state tournament games.
Minnesota Falls to No. 8 Florida State, 75-61
Kenisha Bell scored 17 points and Carlie Wagner added 15 for the Gophers (4-3).