Connecticut Sun sign free agent Rachel Banham, eight-year veteran guard, from Minnesota Lynx

The WNBA free agency period opened for signings on Thursday, and the Connecticut Sun have already addressed a key area of need by adding veteran guard Rachel Banham.

Banham was drafted with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2016 WNBA Draft by the Sun and spent four seasons in Uncasville before she was traded to the Lynx in 2020 for a 2021 second-round draft pick. She had her best season in Minnesota in 2022, averaging 7.9 points and 2.3 assists, and she shot above 40% from 3-point range in 2023 for just the second time in her career.

Prior to her WNBA career, Banham was one of the most decorated players in program history at the University of Minnesota. She was the Big Ten Player of the Year and a first-team All-American in 2016, and graduated as the conference’s all-time leading scorer. Banham is now third on the list behind Indiana Fever guard Kelsey Mitchell’s Ohio State career and Iowa’s Caitlin Clark. Clark is also the No. 2 all-time scorer in NCAA history after reaching 3,491 points on Wednesday against Northwestern.

The Sun lacked a go-to outside shooter in 2023, and trading Natisha Hiedeman to the Lynx in exchange for Tiffany Mitchell on Wednesday eliminated another option. Connecticut’s best 3-point shooter last season was guard Tyasha Harris, who shot 46.4% from beyond the arc on 84 attempts. No other player with more than 10 attempts shot above 37%.

Banham is the Sun’s first free agent signing from outside of its 2023 roster. She’ll join former teammate Mitchell, who was also in the 2016 draft class with Banham, going No. 9 overall to the Indiana Fever. The pair played together in Minnesota last season, helping the Lynx to the first round of the WNBA playoffs after the franchise missed the postseason in 2022.

The Sun’s Rebecca Allen, Brionna Jones and DeWanna Bonner are all free agents who have yet to sign in 2024, but Connecticut has six players already under contract. With star forward Alyssa Thomas secured as a protected veteran, it seems likely that Bonner will be back to play alongside her fiancée. The Sun cored Jones on Jan. 19, indicating that they hope to keep her in Uncasville as well after a torn Achilles tendon cut her 2023 season short.