'I want a statue:' LSU basketball transfer Angel Reese apologizes for nothing, and no one has stopped her yet

Cory Diaz
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

BATON ROUGE – Few emanate the spirit of Baltimore more than Angel Reese.

Free-spirited but not afraid of work, a magnetic charisma that beams brightly: She’s loud and gritty but not noisy. She oozes unbridled confidence on and off the court.

Maryland will always be home for the rapidly ascending star for No. 4 LSU women's basketball (20-0, 8-0), where she transferred prior to this season and is now averaging 23.7 points, more than five more than the SEC's No. 2 scorer, and ranks No. 5 nationally.

But much like her hometown, she’s misunderstood far too often.

From the beginning of her basketball journey, Reese set out to chart her own course. When she decided to transfer following the 2021-22 season at Maryland after averaging a team-high 17 points, the 20-year-old considered everything.

She was leaving so much behind — her mother and her home, the same school where her brother Julian plays basketball, a place where her grandparents could attend every home game.

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To understand how Reese walked away from all she had at Maryland and transfer to LSU, let's circle back to the origin at Deer Park Middle School.

That’s where St. Francis Academy girls basketball coach Jerome Shelton first watched Reese play. She was already 6 feet tall, and when coupled with the ball-handling skills she had already developed, it made her unstoppable.

Reese’s intangibles, however, shined through most.

“She was running the team. She was leading the team,” Shelton recalled. “Angel has always been vocal. I like that in players. She was a coach-on-the-floor type girl from the beginning.

“What you see at LSU now and at Maryland before, she’s an extension of her coaches on the floor and she keeps everyone focused, together and energized. She was doing that as a seventh-grader.”

Reese’s star first took flight during her freshman high school season at St. Francis. Her team was playing Hamilton Heights in the semifinals with a spot in the Dicks National Championship Game on the line.

LSU forward Angel Reese (10) celebrates after making a 3-point basket against Texas A&M at the buzzer heading into halftime during an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, in Baton Rouge, La. (Hilary Scheinuk/The Advocate via AP)

In front of a nationally-televised audience inside historic Christ the King’s gymnasium in New York, the then 14-year-old dropped 24 points and 20 rebounds, including the shot that sent the game to overtime. Hamilton Heights, based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, ended up advancing to the title game, beating St. Francis 56-55, but for Reese, her journey was taking off as she helped St. Francis capture four straight state titles.

Angel Reese wants to be in charge

Reese grew up in a single-parent household and felt responsible for her younger brother. She tried to help her mom however she could. Basketball is etched in her DNA with her mom, her father and aunts, Kortni and Kristi Webb, playing college basketball, as well as Julian.

Reese learned many things from her mother – such as her rebounding ability and motor on the court – and one of them was an undeniable will.

That attitude was on full display during her first practice at LSU.

“I knew the first scrimmage, and I thought I may need to take her off the floor after about three minutes because nobody could stop her,” LSU women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey said. “I thought, ‘This kid’s a beast on the boards.’”

Why did Angel Reese leave Maryland?

It seems each time she steps onto the court, Reese battles stigma.

"I'm too hood. I'm too ghetto,'" Reese recently tweeted. “I don’t fit the narrative and I’m OK with that. I’m from Baltimore where you hoop outside and talk trash. If I was a boy y’all wouldn’t be saying (nothing) at all. Let’s normalize women showing passion for the game instead of it being 'embarrassing.'"

Shelton said people mistake Reese’s confidence on the court for arrogance.

The truth is, Reese arrived on LSU’s campus after she transferred with plenty to prove. For her, it goes deeper than scoring points or collecting double-doubles.

“People think it was her ego, that’s why she left Maryland, that there she was not doing what she wanted. That was not the case. I think she’s misunderstood in that regard," her mother said. "She wanted something different for her basketball future. She wanted something for herself to make her happier and felt her happiness could add to a team’s success. I admire her for that, especially in today’s climate. When these kids make decisions for themselves, people are mad, rude and mean-spirited. It’s vitriolic.

“She wanted to prove to naysayers wrong. She had a chip on her shoulder at the beginning of the season. She’s taking it personal.”

'I got my happiness back'

Reese has already plastered her short, 20-game LSU career with a school record, breaking legend Sylvia Fowles’ consecutive double-double mark, securing her 20th straight Monday night at Alabama. Earlier this season, she broke the single-game rebound record with 28.

"A lot of great players have come before me. I want to be like that," Reese said. "I want to set records, I want a statue up one day. Being able to look up to players like that, players like that I love to be able to beat in those columns. I’m grateful and blessed to be in the situation I’m in."

In the simplest of terms, the star forward has rediscovered herself. It took leaving home to find what she truly needed.

“I came here to be happy,” Reese said. “I got my happiness back and the game that I love. Being able to play the game that I love and knowing that I’m back to the player that I was before.

“I’m just happy.”

Cory Diaz covers the LSU Tigers and Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns for The Daily Advertiser as part of the USA TODAY Network. Follow his Tigers and Cajuns coverage on Twitter: @ByCoryDiaz. Got questions regarding LSU/UL athletics? Send them to Cory Diaz at