Nov. 25, 2013
University of Minnesota junior guard Rachel Banham has been named to the Naismith Trophy 2013-14 Women's 50-Player Watch List, it was announced on Monday. The Naismith Women's Award is given to the nation's top female collegiate basketball player. Banham is one of four Big Ten players on the list, joining Nebraska's Jordan Hooper, Penn State's Maggie Lucas and Purdue's Courtney Moses.
With the announcement of the Naismith Trophy Early Season Watch List, Banham has now been named to all three preseason watch lists for National Player of the Year. In addition to the Naismith, the guard is on the Wade Watch and Wooden Top 30 lists.
The 50 player watch list was compiled by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Selectors, which based its criteria on player performances from the previous year and expectations for the 2013-2014 college basketball season. The Naismith Women's College Player of the Year presented by AT&T will be awarded on April 7, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn.
In late February, the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Selectors will compile a mid-season team of the top 30 players in the nation. In March, the Naismith Trophy voting academy will vote to narrow the list to four finalists.
Just five games into the 2013-14 season, Banham leads the team in scoring with an 18.6 points-per-game average, while boasting a .471 field goal percentage and a .588 three-point field goal percentage, which ranks 10th in the NCAA. The guard has had two 20-plus point performances on the year, including a 26-point performance in the Gophers' win over Kansas on Nov. 20 at Williams Arena.
Banham is currently tied for the No. 12 spot on Minnesota's career scoring register with 1,336 points and needs just 28 points to break into the top-10 on the chart. Debbie Hunter, who scored 1,363 points from 1979-83, currently occupies the No. 10 spot on the list.
As a sophomore, Banham was named All-America Honorable Mention by the WBCA and also earned a spot on the All-Big Ten First Team after averaging 20.7 points per game.
Minnesota has had two players named as Naismith Trophy finalists, including Janel McCarville in 2005 and Lindsay Whalen in both 2003 and 2004.
History of the Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T
Named in honor of Dr. James Naismith, founder of the game of basketball, the Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T is awarded annually to the women's and men's college basketball players of the year. First awarded in 1969 to UCLA's Lew Alcindor, later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Naismith Trophy was sculpted by Marty C. Dawe of Atlanta and has become the most prestigious national honors awarded each year to the top women's and men's college basketball players in the nation.
Each year, the Atlanta Tipoff Club's board of selectors, comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country, vote on player performance to ultimately select the winners.
Unique among national awards of this caliber, the Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T, allows fans to contribute an unprecedented 25 percent of the final vote for the women's and men's players of the year and the women's and men's coaches of the year using the text messaging functions on their cellular telephones.
The Gophers are back in action Tuesday as they host Loyola at Williams Arena beginning at 7:00 p.m. The contest will serve as Hometown Heroes Day, with fire department, police department, hospital and education employees receiving a complimentary ticket with a valid ID.
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