This past July, Rachel Banham’s rookie season with the Connecticut Sun came to an end when she had micro-fracture surgery on her right knee. Selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2016 WNBA Draft, Banham appeared in 15 games before she was sidelined. She made 20-of-49 shots from the field, including 13 three-pointers.
Now back home in Minnesota, Banham took a few minutes recently to provide an update.
How is rehab going?
“It’s going really well. I do (rehab) twice a week. It’s going super well. We’re doing running, cutting, jumping, everything. That’s really exciting for me. I’ve been lifting and doing court stuff at The U (University of Minnesota) every day. It’s been good.”
Do you think you will be playing overseas next year?
“I don’t know yet. I’m going to wait and see how my knee feels. I don’t want to force anything. I don’t want to rush it. I want to be 110 percent this summer so I’m going to take it day by day and see how I’m feeling when it gets to December.”
You went through a lengthy rehabilitation once before after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament tear in college. Did that experience help prepare you for this?
“For sure! No matter what, it all kind of stinks, but it definitely made it easier after doing the ACL. I know what to expect from the rehab. Mentally, you know what to expect a little bit more. It’s going to be hard. You’re going to have your days. This process has moved a little bit faster, though, so that’s helped too.”
Was it a relief to get the issue repaired?
“It’s always nice, when you’re in pain for a good amount of time, and you get it fixed. It just kind of makes you feel better just knowing that you’re going to be able to move forward. I’m always going to have little aches and pains here and there. But knowing that it’s fixed and I can get stronger, I’m hoping I can just move forward and not have to worry about this ever again.”
How tough is it not to be playing and preparing for next season?
“It’s killing me! It’s driving me crazy. I’m able to get in the gym and do stuff, but I don’t want to rush it. I want to do so much more and go so much harder, but I also have to be smart. It’s been really hard to be patient. I still have a long time until I get to come back to Connecticut and get back on the court. I can’t wait. When I get back there, I will be super excited.”
What did you learn from last year, playing and then watching from the sidelines?
“Now that I got to see a lot of things and I got to watch my position a lot, just (the importance of) being in very good shape, being fit. And I think from sitting out I learned (you need to do) what you do well and not (stress) about all the other things. I need to bring what I can bring to this team. Of course I’m working on my weaknesses, but I have to bring my strengths and not over-think and not lose my confidence. Watching Jas (Thomas), I think she’s a really good example of that. She brings exactly what she’s supposed to bring to this team and helped us be successful. I think she played incredibly well this year, but she did exactly what the team needed. I think that is something I need to really focus on next season.”
Finally, the University of Minnesota will be retiring your No. 1 at a special ceremony this season. How did that feel?
“Our director of basketball operations at (the University of Minnesota) called me and it was really random, and she said ‘I’ve got some exciting news for you. I’m going to put coach on the phone.’ And coach just said they were going to retire my jersey this year… I was excited. I was really surprised. I had no idea what they were going to tell me.”