The Minnesota Lynx today announced the team has re-signed free agent guards Layshia Clarendon and Rachel Banham. Per team policy, terms of the deals were not released.
“Re-signing both Layshia and Rachel was very important for us this offseason,” said Lynx Head Coach and General Manager Cheryl Reeve. “Layshia played a clear role in our success last season and their command of the game and leadership while on the floor is vital. Rachel’s shooting and passing ability adds an important dimension to the team from the bench. We are happy to have both players back for the 2022 season.”
A nine-year veteran, Clarendon appeared in 21 games (20 starts) for Minnesota in 2021, with the Lynx going 16-5 in those contests. The 5-9 guard averaged 10.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 5.7 assists on 25.7 minutes per game in a Minnesota uniform while shooting a career-best 51.7% from the floor, 35.7% from deep and 78.4% from the free throw line. Clarendon led the Lynx in assists on 16 occasions, including a season-best nine assists twice (June 23 and July 9). They registered a season-high 20 points and seven assists in the June 25 win against Las Vegas, her fifth career 20+ point performance and touching off a string of six consecutive double-figure scoring nights (11 for the season).
“Minnesota and this team have been a salve for my soul,” said Clarendon. “There was no question during free agency where I wanted to be. I’m beyond thrilled to be back with the Lynx for my 10th season.”
Clarendon began 2021 in New York but was waived on May 20 after appearing in just one contest and signed with Minnesota as a free agent on May 30. In his Lynx debut, Clarendon helped Minnesota secure their first season win in overtime against Connecticut, scoring 12 points in a 79-74 victory. Clarendon was sidelined for seven games from Aug. 31-Sept. 17 due to a stress reaction in her right fibula, but returned to start Minnesota’s regular season finale at Washington on Sept.19 and recorded eight points, six assists and one steal in 15:35 minutes. Clarendon was named the August WNBA Cares Community Assist Award for their continuous efforts as a trailblazer and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and Black and Brown youth. Selected by Indiana in the first round (ninth overall) of the 2013 WNBA Draft out of the University of California, Clarendon has posted career averages of 7.6 points, 2.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game.
Banham, a Lakeville, Minn., native, wrapped up her second season in a Lynx uniform (sixth in the WNBA) by playing in 27 games off the bench in 2021. She contributed 5.0 points, 1.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game while shooting 39.5% from the field and 37.3% (28-for-75) from three-point distance. The 5-10 guard posted season bests with 13 points and eight assists on Sept. 4 against Washington.
“Minnesota is my home,” said Banham. “There’s no greater feeling then playing at home in front of your friends, family and the greatest fans in the WNBA. I’m very excited to be back and look forward to what this season holds.”
The University of Minnesota graduate was acquired from Connecticut on Feb. 25, 2020, having spent her first four seasons with the Sun after being chosen in the first round (fourth overall) of the 2016 WNBA Draft. She enjoyed her best year to date in 2020, averaging 6.9 points and 2.4 assists in 20 contests for the Lynx and ranking fourth in the WNBA in three-point accuracy at 47.2% (25-for-53). Across six seasons, Banham holds career averages of 4.6 points, 1.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 154 games.
(info and photo courtesy of Lynx)