With the WNBA season beginning last weekend, this column pays tribute to two former Minnesota prep standouts and current league players looking to make their mark.
Rachel Banham (Lakeville North)
Banham, a 5’9” guard, is in her fifth WNBA season as a member of the Minnesota Lynx after playing the first four with the Connecticut Sun.
Before finishing her outstanding collegiate career as the all-time leading scorer in Big Ten women’s history (the record has since been broken) with 3,039 points, the sharpshooter enjoyed an outstanding prep career.
She led Lakeville North to the 2010 Class 4A state championship and a 32-0 record during her junior year while earning Minneapolis Star Tribune Co-Player of the Year and Pioneer Press Metro Player of the Year honors.
The following season during her senior year Banham won just about every honor that high school basketball had to offer. In 2011 she was a Parade All-American, Minnesota Miss Basketball, Associated Press Player of the Year, Pioneer Press Player of the Year, Minneapolis Star Tribune Player of the Year, and Minnesota Gatorade Player of the Year.
From there she went to the University of Minnesota to become one of the most prolific scorers in team history, earning All-American honors as a senior and All-Big Ten First Team recognition as a sophomore, junior and senior.
Banham was selected fourth overall by the Sun in 2016.
Nia Coffey (Hopkins)
Coffey, a 6’1” forward, is in her fourth WNBA season as a member of the Phoenix Mercury after playing previously for San Antonio Stars/Las Vegas Aces and Atlanta Dream.
She had an outstanding collegiate career at Northwestern University after starring for Hopkins High School. Coffey led the Royals to the Class 4A state championships her final three seasons (2011, 2012 and 2013).
As a senior she was honored as the 2013 Minneapolis Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year and as a member of the McDonald’s All-American game.
From there Coffey was a four-year standout at Northwestern, earning All Big-Ten First Team recognition each season while becoming the fifth player in Big Ten women’s basketball history with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in a career, earning five varsity letters.
Coffey was the fifth overall pick by the San Antonio Stars in the 2017 draft.
Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald is a contributing columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.