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Angel Reese left the University of Maryland as the nation’s top transfer in women’s college basketball this last offseason to play for Louisiana State University instead. Reese was not the only transfer leaving Maryland, which lost its two top scorers via the transfer portal. The forward did not tell the media why she was transferring, but instead provided a statement regarding why she chose to go to LSU, saying that she was intrigued by the winning culture and believed that coach Kim Mulkey could help her develop into a better player.
Reese came out of high school as the #2 overall recruit in the class of 2020 and the #1 wing prospect. After a foot injury derailed her freshman season, she had a successful run with Maryland, where she made the All-Big-10 First Team and the Defensive All-Big-10 Team last season. She also became the first sophomore to average a double-double in program history since Angie Scott did it in 1975. In her last season with Maryland, Reese averaged 17.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.7 steals, while leading the team in scoring and rebounding.
So far she has only played nine games in an LSU jersey, but she is showing off some of her best basketball yet. Reese seems to be thriving on a strong defensive team that allows her to work her magic in the paint while she has skilled guards and shooters around her. LSU currently ranks third in the SEC in steals per game and blocks per game, and sixth in three-point shooting.
Reese is a versatile player on both ends of the court, who does quite a bit of everything for her team. She runs the floor, capable of both pushing the ball in transition and scoring on the fast break. In the halfcourt offense, Reese can drive and cut effectively, taking advantage of her teammates’ solid passes into the paint. Off the ball, she is very patient with finding the open spots and has immaculate timing when it comes to popping up for the pass underneath the basket.
When she was younger, Reese played the point guard, so she is also comfortable out on the perimeter, where she is not afraid to handle the ball and pickpocket ball-handlers to initiate the fast break. Nevertheless, Reese still does her best work in the paint and low post action. She has great footwork in the post and can finish strong through contact, which often sends her to the free throw line. While Reese is a particularly skilled scorer, she is also a great rebounder. She has a good eye for where the ball will go and when several players are hunting the rebound it ends up in Reese’s hands more oft than not, as she grants herself and her team many second or even third opportunities to score.
Reese is actually leading the nation in rebounds and the SEC in scoring. With an average of 23.1 points, she is far ahead of the second leading scorer, which is Rickea Jackson with 17.6 points per game. Since her arrival, LSU as a team is leading the country in rebounds per game and scoring, which shows the energy Reese brings to a team that is trying to exceed the success Coach Mulkey brought along in her first season with the team. LSU has been playing a rather easy schedule so far and got a chance to ease into the new team dynamics, but there is no denying that Reese brings a winning energy onto the court with her, as she grinds on both ends of the floor.
Usually it takes players a while to adapt to a new team, but Reese found her footing quickly and seems to be fitting right in. Her debut as an LSU Tiger might have been her most impressive game so far with 31 points on efficient shooting, 13 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 blocks. Nine games into the season, LSU is undefeated, and Reese put up double-doubles in every game. That makes up the longest double-double streak in the program’s history since Sylvia Fowles in the 2006-07 season.
The season is still young, but Reese was already named the SEC Player of the Week twice and was named to several award watchlists such as the Naismith Award Preseason Watchlist and the watchlist for the Wade Trophy, which is awarded to the best player in women’s college basketball each season.
By averaging 23.1 points, 14.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.2 steals and 1.7 blocks, Reese is proving that she is not just a dynamic scorer but also a skilled defender on several levels. As she has carried LSU to win after win, she has established herself as an early candidate to be named National Player of the Year and will only continue to solidify her case as her team will eventually face stronger opponents. Reese has always been a strong player throughout her college career, but she really seems to be thriving on this new team and certainly has a bright future.