The Louisiana State University Tiger's women's basketball team defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes 102-85 this past Sunday to claim their first NCAA women's basketball national championship. The game had the highest viewership of any women's college basketball event in history, with an average of 9.9 million viewers. Much of this was due to the excitement surrounding star players Angel Reese of LSU and Caitlin Clark of Iowa. Both players were recognized as two of the best in the nation, yet Reese came out on top, as she contributed 15 points, ten rebounds, five assists, three steals, and one block during the game.
Angel Reese & Caitlin Clark Controversy
Along with her outstanding performance, Reese also made headlines for performing Clark's "You Can't See Me" taunt during the game. The gesture sparked controversy online as many fans speculated that there was "beef" between the two players. Reese responded to this outrage in her post-game interview. In reference to the backlash she received versus fans' more positive reactions to Clark, Reese stated, "All year I was critiqued about who I was. ... I don't fit the narrative. I don't fit in a box that y'all want me to be in. I'm too hood. I'm too ghetto. Y'all told me that all year. But when other people do it, y'all say nothing."
Reese also posted a picture of the gesture to her Twitter account after the game, which created even more buzz. Needless to say, Angel Reese has established herself as one of the country's best women's college basketball players and also created quite a few headlines for herself over the past week. Let's look further into Angel Reese's life and basketball career.
Angel Reese was born on May 6, 2002, in Randallstown, Maryland. Her mother, Angel, and her father, Michael, were collegiate basketball players. The elder Angel played for the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, before embarking on a professional career in Luxembourg. Her father competed for both Boston College and Loyola (Maryland).
Basketball runs in Reese's blood, as Angel's younger brother, Julian, is also a collegiate basketball player for the University of Maryland. Her step-brother, Mikael Hopkins, played basketball at Georgetown and plays professionally in Italy. Her cousin, Jordan Hawkins, plays for the UConn Huskies men's team and won a national championship this year.
High School Career
Angel Reese was a four-year varsity player in high school at basketball powerhouse St. Frances Academy in Baltimore, Maryland. While in high school, Reese led St. Frances Academy to three consecutive Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland (IAAM) championships. During her time at St. Frances, Reese averaged 18 points, 20 rebounds, and five assists per game. The Baltimore Sun honored Reese as the Player of the Year in her junior and senior seasons from 2018-2020. In addition, ESPN listed Reese as the No. 2 ranked women's basketball recruit in the nation for the 2020 recruiting class.
Reese finished her career at St. Frances Academy with the second-most career points scored in school history. The school retired her number 10 jersey number, and she was the first player to receive this honor in St. Frances' history. Angel also played volleyball for the school and led the team to two IAAM championships. Reese also played for Team Takeover on the AAU circuit and helped the team win the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League championship in 2019.
Reese's Time At The University of Maryland
Upon graduating high school, Angel Reese committed to the University of Maryland in her home state. She chose Maryland over offers from USC, South Carolina, Syracuse, and Tennessee. Reese's relationship with Maryland's head coach, Brenda Frese, significantly influenced her commitment. Reese became the highest-ranked recruit in the program's history.
As a Freshman, Reese suffered a Jones Fracture in her foot that sidelined her from December 3rd to February 23rd. Despite this, she averaged 10 points and 6 rebounds in 15 games off the bench for Maryland. Angel earned Big Ten conference All-Freshman honors at the end of the season. In her Sophomore season, Reese assumed a much more significant role at Maryland, as she started 31 games for the Terrapins. Reese averaged 17.8 points and 10.6 rebounds per game for the season, becoming the first women's player at Maryland to average a double-double since 1975. Angel also led Maryland to the Sweet 16 of the 2022 NCAA tournament, earning first-team All-Big Ten and All-Defensive team honors. The Associated Press also named Angel Reese as a third-team All-American.
Transfer To LSU
On April 5, 2022, Angel Reese entered the transfer portal hoping to join a team with a winning culture. Before deciding to commit to LSU, Reese took visits to South Carolina and Tennessee. On May 6, Angel officially committed to LSU and decided due to her trust in LSU's coach Kim Mulkey and her desire to win a national championship. In her junior year with LSU, Reese became one of the nation's best women's basketball players.
In her first season at LSU this year, Reese broke LSU's record for consecutive double-doubles. She also broke the single-game rebounding record with 28 rebounds in a single game. On February 16, 2023, she recorded a career-high 36 points and also contributed 20 rebounds in a game against Ole Miss. She finished the season averaging 23 points and 15.4 rebounds per game.
As mentioned, Reese led LSU to their first national championship in women's basketball this year. Angel received the tournament's Most Outstanding Player award. Additionally, Reese earned unanimous first-team All-American, first-team All-SEC, and SEC All-Defensive Team honors.
Reese's Off-Court Personality & Successes
Angel Reese has been nicknamed the "Bayou Barbie" due to her personality and style away from the basketball court. Her success as an athlete has also led to many NIL deals, allowing college athletes to be paid for their likenesses by outside companies. Reese has NIL deals with companies such as Amazon, XFinity, Outback Steakhouse, Wingstop, and the fashion brand Coach. After receiving her deal from Coach, Reese gave bags to her LSU teammates. Angel Reese will not be eligible to enter the WNBA draft until 2024, yet her recent successes and captivating off-the-court personality excite fans for her future.