Minnesota’s Mamba Finally Meets the Real Mamba

Minnesota Golden Gophers star Rachel Banham already had the Kobe Bryant seal of approval as she heads into the April 14 WNBA Draft. On Wednesday, she finally met her idol in person.

The connection between the Minnesota Mamba and the original Mamba began back in February, when Banham scored an NCAA record-tying 60 points and told the Big Ten Network about her love from Kobe.

Later that day, the man himself shouted her out on Twitter.

When Banham sunk a buzzer-beater against Iowa the following week, Kobe saw some of himself in the senior star.

“I mean, she can play,” Bryant said when asked about Banham at a Lakers press conference. “You watch her game, her game is very well-balanced: going left, pulling up and shooting; going right, pulling up and shooting; floaters. I mean, she can do it all. She can do it all. Like I said when I saw how she scored 60, it didn’t seem like much of a fluke to me. And until they figure out a way to solve her weapons, she’s going to continue to do it.”

Banham leaves Minnesota as the Big Ten’s all-time career scoring leader with 3,093 career points, the 2015-16 Big Ten Player of the Year, and the school’s all-time single-season leader in scoring average (28.6 PPG).

“I’ve definitely watched a lot of film on [Kobe] and a lot of his games,” Banham told the Big Ten Network in February. “I’ve watched clips of when he had 81 and that really gets me pumped. He’s an incredible player and an incredible scorer, and he just has that scoring mentality that I love.”