Did Money and Fame Get to Angel Reese?

Last season Reese was the star of her basketball team as they won the championship, which led to attention for brand deals. Reese is nicknamed “The Bayou Barbie”, which goes to her love for all things pink and girly. She is an NIL superstar, as she is number 7 on the On3 Top 100 list and the 2nd highest paid woman on the list behind Livvy Dunne,[1] although she is listed number 1 for Women’s Basketball ranking. Reese posed in the Sports Illustrated annual swimsuit issue, and also signed deals with Reebok, Airbnb, and Tampax.[2] Coaches are directly above their athletes, and if anyone is going to notice a change in an athlete it is the coach. Reese has always noted that school and basketball were most important to her, and now with rumors on her grades and her not suiting up for games, it is quite apparent there may be a bigger issue with Reese.

LSU star forward Angel Reese has been benched for the second consecutive game.[3] LSU started the season as reigning champs, as they beat Iowa in the NCAA national championship last season. With that, coming into this season there were high stakes that LSU and fans hoped to meet. In the opening game of the season on November 6, LSU lost to Colorado 96-78 in a game where Reese did not show her best performance. Reese finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds, but she shot only 6 of 15 from the field, missing lots of close shots. On their 4th game of the season, November 14, Reese was benched in the second half after scoring 11 points. Coach Mulkey stated the benching was a coach’s decision. Reese then missed the next game on November 17, and was not present on the bench. Mulkey did not offer details, but stated “It’s very obvious Angel was not in uniform; Angel is a part of this basketball team, and we hope to see her sooner rather than later … I’m not going to answer anymore. That’s it. That’s all y’all need to know, OK?”[4] Speculations on Reese then started regarding her GPA and whether that factored into the coach’s decision. Reese was also not present at the game against Southeastern Louisiana on November 20. Reese’s mom, and Flau’Jae’s mom, a teammate of Reese, supposedly were going back and forth with each other on social media where Flau’Jae’s mother stated, “You definitely know about grammar errors when your daughter has a 2.0 or less GPA.”

Neither Reese nor Flau’Jae have commented directly on the situation, but Reese reposted a video on her Instagram story on November 19, of Coach Sanders that stated, “Look at me. What about me would make you think that I care about your opinion of me? Your opinion of me is not the opinion that I have of myself. You ain’t make me, so you can’t break me. You didn’t build me, so you can’t kill me.”[5] Reese also tweeted that same day “please don’t believe everything you read.”[6] While Reese did not give much context to these posts, we can assume they go to her disappearance with the team. It will be interesting to see how all this unfolds, and if the public will find out more details on the reasons behind Reese’s absence.

[1] https://www.on3.com/db/angel-reese-174581/

[2] Id.

[3] https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaw/sec/2023/11/20/angel-reese-benched-lsu/71655457007/

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

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