Carlie Wagner started her Gophers basketball career playing sidekick roles to All-Americas Amanda Zahui B. and Rachel Banham.
But after a breakout season as Minnesota’s leading scorer last season, Wagner has now put herself in position to go down as one of the top three scorers in Gophers women’s basketball history.
“I’m only in that situation because of the teammates I’ve had,” Wagner said Saturday at media day. “The teammates who have helped me grow.”
Just by duplicating her output in 2016-17, the senior guard from New Richland, Minn., would finish her career with more than 2,100 points, which would place her behind only Banham and Lindsay Whalen on the Gophers career scoring list.
Pretty select company.
“Carlie doesn’t really look at it individually so much; she would give all that to go back to an NCAA tournament,” coach Marlene Stollings said. “But she does have the opportunity to go down as one of the great scorers to ever come through here.”
Wagner, who played in the NCAAs as a freshman in 2015, averaged 19.1 points as a junior last season. She likely won’t need to carry the heavy load Banham shouldered in her final college season breaking Big Ten records, but Wagner will be asked again to fill a go-to scorer role.
“Similarly to Rachel, and a lot of people might not believe me on this, but we had to tell Rachel to shoot a lot,” Stollings said. “She was very unselfish as a player. We had somewhat of the same issues with Carlie for a little bit of her career, but she’s a lot more comfortable.”
Wagner, who had a career-high 38 points in a 84-69 loss at Michigan last season, had to adjust to playing with eight newcomers last season, including guards Kenisha Bell and Gadiva Hubbard. Their chemistry has grown in the offseason.
“We just have so much more maturity on the floor with the newcomers having a year of experience,” Wagner said. “That’s just going to add to the team this year. They know what the Big Ten is about. That experience is huge.”