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Big Ten Names Rachel Banham (Minnesota) and Denzel Valentine (Michigan State) As Athletes of the Year

Michigan State's Denzel Valentine and Minnesota's Rachel Banham were named athletes of year in the Big Ten.

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten Conference recently selected its male and female athletes of the year, tabbing the basketball duo of Michigan State' Denzel Valentize and Minnesota's Rachel Banham as the winners of the prestigious awards.

Valentine was named the 2016 Big Ten Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year after finishing up his stellar career with the Spartans. He won a number of awards in his final year on campus, including the Big Ten Player of the Year honor, six national player of the year honors and the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year award. He also was a consensus first team All-American while leading Michigan State to a record of 29-6.

Valentine was the third Spartan to be chosen for the male award, following hockey player Ryan Miller in 2001 and current Golden State Warrior forward Draymond Green in 2013.

Banham was chosen as the Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year after scoring 28.6 points per game in her senior season. Banham put herself in the record books this past season, setting the career scoring record in the Big Ten. She also sits in sixth place all-time in the country with 3.093 points over five seasons (she received a fifth year of eligibility after playing just 10 games in the 2014-2015 season before a torn ACL). She also was selected as the Player of the Year in the Big Ten and was a first team All-America selection.

Banham was the third Golden Gopher female to receive the award, following swimming and diving star Gretchen Hegener in 1997 and hockey player Amanda Kessell in 2013.

Each Big Ten school nominated one male and female for the award. Those nominees are listed below:


Male Nominees

Female Nominees


Isaiah Martinez (wrestling)

Jocelynn Birks (volleyball)


Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell (basketball)

Lilly King (swimming and diving)


Desmond King (football)

Aly Disterhoft (basketball)


Kyle Bernlohr (lacrosse)

Taylor Cummings (lacrosse)


Mason Ferlic (cross country/track and field)

Sierra Romero (softball)

Michigan State

Denzel Valentine (basketball)

Aeriel Powers (basketball)


Matt Fiedler (baseball)

Rachel Banham (basketball)


Nick Percy (track and field)

Kadie Rolfzen (volleyball)


Konrad Zieba (tennis)

Hannah Kim (golf)

Ohio State

Kyle Snyder (wrestling)

Catherine Shields (rowing)

Penn State

Zain Retherford (wrestling)

Raquel Rodriguez (soccer)


Chukwuebuka Enekwechi (track and field)

Emily Fogle (swimming and diving)


Anthony Ashnault (wrestling)

Gabrielle Farquharson (track)


Zach Ziemek (track and field)

Ann-Renee Desbiens (hockey)

And here is a list of previous winners (some years had co-recipients):

Male Winners

Female Winners

1982 -€” Jim Spivey, Indiana, track and field/cross country

1983 -€” Ed Banach, Iowa, wrestling

1984 -€” Sunder Nix, Indiana, track and field

1985 -€” Barry Davis, Iowa, wrestling

1986 -€” Chuck Long, Iowa, football

1987 -€” Steve Alford, Indiana, basketball

1988 -€” Jim Abbott, Michigan, baseball

1989 -€” Glen Rice, Michigan, basketball

1990 -€” Anthony Thompson, Indiana, football

1991 -€” Mike Barrowman, Michigan, swimming

1992 -€” Desmond Howard, Michigan, football

1993 -€” John Roethlisberger, Minnesota, gymnastics

1994 -€” Glenn Robinson, Purdue, basketball

1995 -€” Tom Dolan, Michigan, swimming

1996 -€” Eddie George, Ohio State, football

1997 -€” Blaine Wilson, Ohio State, gymnastics

1998 -€” Charles Woodson, Michigan, football

1999 -€” Luke Donald, Northwestern, golf

2000 -€” Ron Dayne, Wisconsin, football

2001 -€” Ryan Miller, Michigan State, hockey

2002 -€” Jordan Leopold, Minnesota, hockey

2003 -€” Amer Delic, Illinois, tennis

2003 -€” Matt Lackey, Illinois, wrestling

2004 -€” Damion Hahn, Minnesota, wrestling

2005 -€” Luis Vargas, Penn State, gymnastics

2006 -€” Peter Vanderkaay, Michigan, swimming

2007 -€” Cole Konrad, Minnesota, wrestling

2008 -€” Brent Metcalf, Iowa, wrestling

2009 -€” Jake Herbert, Northwestern, wrestling

2010 -€” Evan Turner, Ohio State, basketball

2011 -€” David Boudia, Purdue, diving

2012 -€” Draymond Green, Michigan State, basketball

2013 -€” Derek Drouin, Indiana, track and field

2014 -€” David Taylor, Penn State, wrestling

2015 -€” Logan Stieber, Ohio State, wrestling

1983 -€” Judi Brown, Michigan State, track and field

1984 -€” Lisa Ishikawa, Northwestern, softball

1985 -€” Cathy Branta, Wisconsin, cross country/track

1986 -€” Stephanie Herbst, Wisconsin, cross country/track

1987 -€” Jennifer Averill, Northwestern, field hockey/lacrosse

1988-1990 -€” Suzy Favor, Wisconsin, track and field/cross country

1991 -€” Julie Farrell-Ovenhouse, Michigan State, diving

1991 -€” Joy Holmes, Purdue, basketball

1992 -€” MaChelle Joseph, Purdue, basketball

1993 -€” Lara Hooiveld, Michigan, swimming

1994 -€” Kristy Gleason, Iowa, field hockey

1995 -€” Laura Davis, Ohio State, volleyball

1996 -€” Olga Kalinovskaya, Penn State, fencing

1997 -€” Kathy Butler, Wisconsin, track and field

1997 -€” Gretchen Hegener, Minnesota, swimming

1998 -€” Sara Griffin, Michigan, softball

1999 -€” Stephanie White-McCarty, Purdue, basketball

2000 -€” Lauren Cacciamani, Penn State, volleyball

2001 -€” Katie Douglas, Purdue, basketball

2002 -€” Christie Welsh, Penn State, soccer

2003 -€” Perdita Felicien, Illinois, track and field

2004 -€” Kelly Mazzante, Penn State, basketball

2005 -€” Jennie Ritter, Michigan, softball

2006 -€” Tiffany Weimer, Penn State, soccer

2007 -€” Jessica Davenport, Ohio State, basketball

2008 -€” Hannah Nielsen, Northwestern, lacrosse

2009 -€” Maria Hernandez, Purdue, golf

2010 -€” Megan Hodge, Penn State, volleyball

2011 -€” Shannon Smith, Northwestern, lacrosse

2012 -€” Christina Manning, Ohio State, track and field

2013 -€” Amanda Kessel, Minnesota, hockey

2014 -€” Dani Bunch, Purdue, track and field

2015 -€” Taylor Cummings, Maryland, lacrosse