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Rachel Banham is so good at basketball Kobe Bryant can’t stop talking about her

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The Minnesota guard is shattering records like it's nobody's business, and Kobe seems to be one of the only people paying attention.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

On Super Bowl Sunday this year, somewhere in between the premature dab celebrations and overly intense debates on the legacy of Peyton Manning, something amazing happened, and nobody seemed to notice at first.

Rachel Banham, a guard for the University of Minnesota women's basketball team, dropped 60 points (!!!) in a double overtime win at Northwestern. To put that into context, she tied the women's Division 1 single game scoring record and broke the Big Ten women's single game scoring record. Only twice in this century has a Division 1 men's player scored 60 in a game -- North Dakota State's Ben Woodside in 2008 and Arizona State's Eddie House in 2000 were the others.

Here she is breaking the Big Ten single game record:

But her feats of scoring have been sustained beyond that February afternoon in Evanston. On Sunday afternoon, Banham set the all-time Big Ten scoring record when she knocked down yet another three late against Michigan State, putting her career point total at 2,921. It's worth noting that the men's Big Ten career point record is well below that.

Here's why you should care about college basketball's most exciting player right now, who outside of the Twin Cities and some Big Ten outlets, isn't getting much coverage:

One of her biggest fans is Kobe Bryant

Ever since professing her love of the Black Mamba in an interview with the Big Ten Network, Banham has gained Kobe as a big fan and source of advice and support.

We may not all be basketball experts, so for now we should take Bryant's word for it that Banham is one of the best scorers out there right now.

She has a compelling story

Most remarkably, Banham, a redshirt senior, is accomplishing her scoring feats against the odds of her physical competitiveness. Banham missed all of last year, what would have been her senior year, due to a torn ACL early in the season, only to be given a medical redshirt. Banham's comeback alone is impressive, but to score at the level that she is doing, only one year removed from major knee surgery, is unprecedented.


She can score in any way possible -- just like Kobe

The more contemporary comparison to the way Banham plays would naturally be Stephen Curry. But there was just something about her 60-point game against Northwestern that felt like Kobe Bryant scoring 81 against the Raptors in 2006.

The variety of ways in which she scores -- long threes, fade away jumpers, mid-range jumpers, floaters in the lane, driving layups, etc. -- just screams vintage Kobe.

Just like Bryant, when she gets hot, she really gets hot. In the game this weekend against Michigan State when she broke the Big Ten all-time record, she scored 52 points. And on a Minnesota team that is already the fifth-highest scoring team in the country, Banham, the nation's second-leading scorer at 27.5 points per game, is liable to get going at any moment. In the words of Kobe himself, "She can do it all":

Banham is clutch -- just like Kobe

Check out Banham's buzzer beater for the win last week against Iowa:

Once again, Kobe seems to see a lot of himself in the young Minnesotan:

Watch her now, because you may not see her come March

Despite a decent 18-9 record that puts Minnesota fourth in the current Big Ten standings, most predictions are leaving the Gophers out of the NCAA Tournament next month. In his latest assessment of the women's field, ESPN's Charlie Creme left Minnesota out of his tournament prediction due to its low RPI and failure to perform well against better teams. A combined 82 points from Banham wasn't even enough for the Gophers to win their last two games.

So watch Banham play these next couple weeks, including her last ever home game Wednesday night vs. Ohio State, because you may not get the chance again.