Sports

LSU star Angel Reese declares for WNBA draft via Vogue photo shoot, says 'I didn't want to be basic'

Bayou Barbie is WNBA bound.

LSU star Angel Reese, who is known for her eyelash extensions, painted fingernails and ferocious play in the paint, formally declared for the WNBA draft on Wednesday. Her announcement comes two days after the Tigers' season ended with a loss to Caitlin Clark and Iowa in the Elite Eight round of the women's NCAA Tournament.

Reese, whose career interests also include modeling and fashion, announced her decision via a photo shoot in Vogue, saying she was inspired by tennis great Serena Williams announcing her retirement in 2022 in a similar manner.

Up until LSU's season ended, Reese publicly left open the option of returning to the Tigers. But she acknowledged having made up her mind to turn pro before March Madness began.

“Of course, I like to do everything big,” Reese told the magazine. “I didn’t want anything to be basic.”

“I’ve done everything I wanted to in college,” added Reese, who also has expressed interest in playing professionally in Europe during the WNBA offseason. “I’ve won a national championship, I’ve gotten (Southeastern Conference) Player of the Year, I’ve been an All-American. My ultimate goal is to be a pro — and to be one of the greatest basketball players to play, ever. I feel like I’m ready.”

Reese, a dynamic, 6-foot-3 forward who can run the floor, guard the perimeter and block shots anywhere, likely will join Clark, the expected No. 1 pick by Indiana, as one of the top players drafted on April 15. Draft analysts have projected Reese as a seventh or eighth overall choice. An undeveloped outside shot is among the few questions about her game as she leaves college.

Reese spent the evening after the announcement taking in an NBA game in New Orleans between the Orlando Magic and the Pelicans. She sat courtside with former LSU teammate Amani Bartlett, known for placing a crown on Reese's head during pregame introductions this past season. Reese was shown on the arena video board, drawing enthusiastic applause.

Reese grew up in Baltimore and began her college career at Maryland, where her brother, Julian, plays for the men's team. She transferred to LSU in 2022 and the Tigers won the program's only national title in Reese's first season.

“She helped transform our program,” LSU coach Kim Mulkey said. “We are all indebted to Angel Reese for the contributions she has given to this program, helping us win our first national championship, and the contributions she made on our university as a whole.”

Reese registered 61 double-doubles for the Tigers in two seasons. Only Sylvia Fowles had more double-doubles at LSU.

Reese averaged 20.9 points and 14.4 rebounds per game at LSU, including seven games with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds. Reese became the first SEC player since Vanderbilt's Wendy Scholtens in 1989 and 1990 to lead the league in both scoring and rebounding in consecutive seasons.

This season, Reese was named the SEC Player of the Year. Reese has played four college seasons but was among those athletes granted an additional year of eligibility by the NCAA because their careers overlapped with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When she came here, she said she wanted to be here for two seasons and she has lived up to that," Mulkey said. "What a remarkable two years it has been.

“She not only helped grow our program but had an impact on growing the game of women’s basketball across the country," Mulkey added. "We wish her good luck as she moves to the WNBA and look forward to see all that she accomplishes.”

Reese burst onto the scene during LSU's championship run last year as an extremely talented basketball player and dynamic personality — accessible and engaging with fans and media off the court, and trash talking in the faces of her opponents on it. Reese grew up playing basketball with her brother and other boys in Baltimore, and she has said that forced her to become physically and mentally tough on the court.

Since winning the title, Reese said there has been increased scrutiny of her, but she maintained that she would continue to be “unapologetically me.”

Her LSU teammates, who sometimes referred to her as “the queen,” defended her leadership and what she’s been through — including a time earlier this season when she was suspended by Mulkey for four games right before Thanksgiving — time she used to take a self-described mental health break.

“Everybody can have their opinion on Angel Reese, but y’all don’t know her,” Flau’jae Johnson said. “I know the real Angel Reese, and the person I see every day is a strong person, is a caring, loving person. But the crown she wears is heavy. She’s the type of teammate that’s going to make you believe in yourself.”

Players not competing in the Elite Eight had until Monday to renounce their remaining eligibility. Players like Reese, who were competing in the Elite Eight or beyond, had about 48 hours after their final game to make their decision.

In what was her final college game, Reese injured her ankle in the second quarter against Iowa and still finished with 17 points and 20 rebounds before fouling out in the final two minutes of the game.

Reese was one of the top NIL earners in college, with a valuation of $1.8 million, according toOn3.com. She's had marketing relationships with Coach, Reebok and Mercedes-Benz. Many of those deals could now become the type of endorsements on which professional athletes typically cash in.

___

AP Sports Writer Mark Long contributed to this report.

___

WNBA: https://apnews.com/hub/wnba-basketball

AP women's college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll

Listen

news

weather

traffic



mobile apps

Everything you love about krmg.com and more! Tap on any of the buttons below to download our app.

amazon alexa

Enable our Skill today to listen live at home on your Alexa Devices!