Angel Reese had a tremendous run last season, but that was last season. The NIL Queen and pop culture sensation lived reality in the offseason that many professional basketball players have yet to achieve.
From making a cameo in a Cardi B music video to becoming a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue model, Angel Reese is basking in the glory of LSU’s first national championship in basketball last season. Now, she is a benched player who needs an “attitude adjustment,” per reports.
In the new world of NIL and early celebrity for collegiate student-athletes, Reese might need to return to earth in basketball terms. Reese’s benching is surprising only four games into the season, given the rise of her stature and ubiquity across top media platforms.
Humbling The Queen
LSU women’s basketball head coach Kim Mulkey criticized her team when they lost their season opener against Colorado on Nov. 6, 92-78, by then-No. 20 Colorado in their season opener. Reese played 30 minutes, scored 15 points on 6 of 15 shooting (40 percent), and had 12 rebounds and one assist.
“I’m disappointed and surprised in some players I thought would be tougher and have a little fight and leadership about them,” Mulkey said after the loss, leaving many to speculate that she was talking about her celebrity forward, Reese.
“You live with poor shooting,” Mulkey continued. “You live with a tough night offensively. What I don’t live with is no guts and fight and physical play. You have to have that dog in you, and I don’t think we had it tonight.”
On Tuesday, Reese did not play in the second half of a 109-79 win over Kent State. The lightly-regarded team was down to LSU by only two points by halftime, 39-37. Reese had 11 points and five rebounds in 13 minutes but did not touch the hardwood after the half due to a “coach’s decision,” LSU coach Kim Mulkey said.
Although it is early, many are concerned that LSU might not be able to repeat its Cinderella season even though they are currently at 3-1. Reese’s faceoff against Iowa’s Caitlyn Clark in last season’s collegiate championship faceoff made Reese a national figure. To repeat last year’s serendipity, cohesion is necessar, however, there are some cracks already being seen.
Off the court, Reese’s mother, Angel Reese Webb, had a social media beef with teammate Flau’jae Johnson’s mother, Kia Brooks, where they seemingly criticized each other on Instagram. Among other accusations, Johnson’s mother said Angel Reese “got a 2.0 or less GPA.”
Whether that is true was not confirmed.
Angel Reese is experiencing life under the microscope since last year’s success, but now the world wants to know if she and the LSU Tigers can repeat amid all the off-the-court success. Mulkey intends to send a message that to make that happen, the team must stay diligent, even if that means benching her prominent star.