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LSU’s Angel Reese is a role model, whether people like it or not

Angel Reese celebrates LSU’s win over Virginia Tech in the 2023 Final Four. (Grace Bradley/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

DALLAS — Angel Reese didn’t set out to be a role model. She’s not even sure when or how it happened.

But now, when Reese looks into the crowd of LSU faithful, she sees purple and gold. She sees sequins in honor of her coach Kim Mulkey’s conspicuous fashion choices. And she sees a contingent of young girls cheering her on.

“I didn’t even realize the impact I made on so many little girls,” she said.

She couldn’t understand what captured their attention, so Reese went straight to the source.

“I’ll ask them, ‘Why do you love me?’ And they said, ‘Because you are who you are. You’re you.’ And that’s the biggest trait I carry. Be who you are, and never, ever back down to anyone.”

Reese and her unapologetic personality have taken the NCAA by storm this season, all the way to Sunday’s national championship game, where No. 3 LSU will take on Caitlin Clark and No. 2 Iowa.

Inspired by her single mom, who raised Angel and her brother Julian, Reese is proud of who she is and where she came from. She wears her emotions on her sleeve, on the court and on her Twitter account. Reese never holds back.

In a win over Arkansas on Jan. 19, Reese lost her shoe during a defensive possession, but it made no difference. When Samara Spencer drove to the basket, Reese held her sneaker in one hand and used the other to deliver a soul-crushing block.

Then, Reese stood over Spencer, who had fallen to the ground, and delivered a few lines of trash talk — another trait she’s become known for this season.

It resulted in a technical foul and discourse over the way Reese carries herself. But the LSU star isn’t going to tone down her personality for officials or for spectators. It’s who she is. And being a role model and a trash talker aren’t mutually exclusive.

“I’m from Baltimore where you hoop outside and talk trash,” she wrote on Twitter following the game. “If I was a boy y’all wouldn’t be saying nun at all. Let’s normalize women showing passion for the game instead of it being ‘embarrassing.’”

Twitter is where Reese addresses any grievances people have about her and her team. Often, young people are advised to think about what they put out into the world. The general consensus has long been that it’s better to keep those thoughts in your circle. But just like she rejects shots, Reese swats away that notion one tweet at a time.

Her candor, both online and in press conferences, rubs some people the wrong way, but it endears Reese to others. And those little LSU fans love it. Her realness and online presence are relatable to a generation that’s grown up with Twitter and TikTok.

“I feel like my life is an open book,” she said. “Everybody sees everything that goes on in my life. I don’t really have a personal life.”

Reese posts “get ready with me” videos on TikTok, sometimes, even on game days. She chats to the camera in a fluffy pink robe and a cheetah print bonnet while brushing her teeth and styling her hair. Social media makes these college stars more accessible, but Reese takes it to the extreme, letting her fans into every moment of her life.

All the while, she stays true to herself. Her wardrobe, full lashes and hair — she gets hers from former Baylor basketball player Te’a Cooper’s company, Hollywood Luxury Hair — have earned Reese the nickname “Bayou Barbie” among LSU fans.

Reese’s soft voice and doe-eyed videos are a far cry from her on-court persona, but both are quintessentially Angel. And transferring to LSU from Maryland after last season — another action she’s received criticism for — allowed Reese to fully embrace who she is.

“She came to LSU for a new start,” coach Kim Mulkey said. “I think Angel has grown up a lot. She can handle tough love.”

Reese doesn’t just handle it; she needs it. And she knew Mulkey would push her to be fully herself.

Reese and LSU coach Kim Mulkey have formed a special bond this season. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

LSU wasn’t even on her list, but her close friend and former Ohio State player, Kateri Poole, convinced Reese to take the visit with her. Reese was considering South Carolina and Tennessee, but after she talked to Mulkey and walked around LSU’s campus, Reese canceled her other two visits.

That’s how sure Reese is of herself and her instincts. She knew she was meant to be a Tiger, and now, as she prepares to play for a national championship, her decision is paying off.

When the little girls in the stands are cheering her on, they’ll see a trash-talking, eyelash wearing, Twitter-typing basketball player. They’ll see someone who knows who she is, loves who she is and is never afraid of that. They might see her get a technical. They might see an elaborate celebration or a TikTok dance after she scores an and-1. They might hear a spicy postgame quote.

They’ll see Angel Reese being Angel Reese. And they’ll love her for it.

Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.

The Women’s Cup Finalizes 2024 Tournament With Chile’s Colo Colo

Patricia Padium (L) of Brazils Audax/Corinthians, vies for the ball with Claudia Soto of Chile's Colo Colo during the Women Copa Libertadores final match
The addition of the Chilean side rounds out the Cup's four-team field. (FAVIO FALCON/AFP via Getty Images)

The Women’s Cup field has been finalized, with Chilean club Colo Colo joining the four-team field. 

Colo Colo will join Racing Louisville of the NWSL along with Italy's Juventus and Brazil's Palmeiras at Lynn Family Stadium in Louisville from August 9th through 13th. 

The tournament will have a $100,000 prize pool.

"We are honored to have Colo-Colo as the first Chilean Team to play in The Women’s Cup," said J.P. Reynal, CEO of The Women’s Cup, in yesterday's press release. "Women’s soccer has seen exponential growth in South America and having two of the best teams in the region participating in this year’s tournament is proof they can compete with the top teams from Europe and the United States."

"We are pleased to be considered in this important championship for women’s soccer and very proud that Colo-Colo is one of the most important exponents of this discipline in Chile," echoed Enzo Caszely, president of women’s football at Colo-Colo. "As a club, we have been pioneers in its professionalization at a national level, and this instance is proof of it."

Juventus and Colo-Colo will square off on Friday, August 9th at 5 PM ET followed by Racing Louisville and Palmeiras at 8 PM ET. Tickets can be purchased now via both The Women's Cup's and Racing Lousiville's websites.

This is Racing Louisville's third time featuring in the competition. The team won The Women's Cup's first iteration in 2021, beating German side FC Bayern in penalty kicks at Lynn Family Stadium. The Seattle Reign claimed The Women's Cup in 2022.

The Kansas City Current will also host a Women’s Cup tournament from August 14th through the 17th. The winners of each 2024 tournament will then face each other in the Global Series Finals, scheduled for February 2025.

PWHL Draft Spurs Controversy for League Champs Minnesota

pwhl draft first pick Sarah Fillier
PWHL New York kicked off the 2024 PWHL Draft by selecting Princeton's Sarah Fillier No. 1 overall. (PWHL)

The 2024 PWHL Draft took place on Tuesday, with Princeton and Canadian national team forward Sarah Fillier going first overall to PWHL New York. 

New York also added two defenders and a goaltender, as well as three forwards to make seven solid additions to next season's roster. 

But it was first-ever PWHL champions Minnesota that created the most buzz, with the draft happening just three days after they announced the abrupt departure of general manager Natalie Darwitz following a league review. 

With the 10th overall pick, PWHL Minnesota took Team USA forward Britta Curl. Fans immediately took to the internet to voice their concerns, citing Curl's social media activity. In the past, Curl had "liked" posts on X that targeted the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly transgender individuals. Her activity also showed support for Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old Wisconsin man who fatally shot three unarmed people, two fatally, during a 2020 Black Lives Matter protest.

When asked about the pick — and whether or not he had consulted with any members of the LGBTQIA+ community prior to making the pick — PWHL Minnesota coach Ken Klee opted to defend Curl.

"Did I speak to anyone from the community? I talk with players, with coaches. That’s tough to answer for me," Klee said. "I spoke with a lot of different people. I mean, at the end of the day, I was told she’s a great teammate, a great person. She’s obviously a great player."

The team also had PWHL Minnesota assistant coach Mira Jalosuo, who is married to a woman, announce the pick.

"We have people in that community and obviously Mira making that selection for us, I think that speaks volumes for us," Klee added. "We were just trying to pick the best players available. I wouldn’t want anything to take away from any of those players' experience. It’s unfortunate a little bit at the beginning, but again, it’s okay. People are entitled to their opinion."

Washington Mystics Snap 12-Game Losing Streak

Brittney Sykes #20 of the Washington Mystics shoots the ball during the game against the Atlanta Dream during the 2024 WNBA Commissioner's Cup game on June 11, 2024
Washington guard Brittney Sykes returned from injury Tuesday night to post a game-high 18 points. (Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Washington Mystics snapped a team-record 12-game losing streak on Tuesday, taking home their first win of the season over the Atlanta Dream. 

Brittney Sykes returned from injury and made an immediate impact with game-high 18 points, four assists, and three rebounds. As a team, Washington shot over 50% from behind the arc.

"The feel is it's been coming," coach Eric Thibault said after the game. "I said the other night that we're turning into a good basketball team and we just haven't had the wins to show for it yet. We've been playing better basketball now for a while.

"We're obviously shooting well, but I think the quality of the shots we're getting is really good."

Still, the team’s slow start isn't exactly in the rearview mirror. With star forward Elena Delle Donne sitting this season out, the Mystics were always predicted to face an uphill climb in what has been described as a rebuilding year. 

But with a franchise-worst 0-12 record to kick off the 2024 season, the Mystics are likely on track for a lottery pick. However, Washington can point to positive performances from star draft pick Aaliyah Edwards and league newcomer Julie Vanloo.

Elsewhere in the WNBA, the Las Vegas Aces continued their skid with a surprising 100-86 upset courtesy of the Minnesota Lynx. The reigning WNBA champions were shorthanded this week, falling to 5-5 on the season despite MVP-level play from A'ja Wilson, who scored 28 points in Tuesday's loss.

Minnesota shot over 55% as a team, with Alanna Smith leading the team with 18 points. The game marked the Aces' first three-game losing streak since 2019.

"This is a long, long, long season," Wilson said in her postgame remarks. "I'm not going to press the panic button. I'm still going to bet on us. I know exactly what's in that locker room."

Aces stalwart Chelsea Gray has been out with injury since last year's WNBA Finals run. And while she told reporters on Tuesday that she's set to return before the Olympic break, the team can’t get her back soon enough as they continue to struggle with depth. 

"I don't want them thinking too much; then you get paralysis [by] analysis," coach Becky Hammon said. "We're just not being solid in our base. Just be solid defensively. We're not a very good team right now, that's just reality. But we know we can get better. I still have a lot of belief in this ball club."

USA Women’s Basketball Releases Olympic Roster, Explains Clark’s Omission

USA Women's Basketball's Diana Taurasi #12, Brittney Griner #15 and Sabrina Ionescu #6 at April's National Team Training Camp
All the players tapped for this year's Olympic roster have senior national team experience. (Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

USA Women's Basketball announced its official Olympic roster on Tuesday, with officials noting that Caitlin Clark’s lack of national team experience played a key role in her omission.

Selection committee chair Jen Rizzotti said that the committee evaluated players according to a set of on-court criteria they were given.

"When you base your decision on criteria, there were other players that were harder to cut because they checked a lot more boxes," she told reporters on Tuesday. "Then sometimes it comes down to position, style of play for [coach Cheryl Reeve] and then sometimes a vote."

Three first-time Olympians made the squad: Alyssa Thomas, Sabrina Ionescu, and Kahleah Copper. Additionally, Jackie Young and Kelsey Plum will make the switch to the national 5-on-5 team after winning gold in the inaugural 3×3 competition at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 

Age, Rizzotti said, was "never brought up" in player selection discussions. It’s the first time in Olympic history that a USA Women’s Basketball 5-on-5 team will travel to the Games without a single player under 26 years old.

Rizzotti commented that all the players tapped for this year's Olympic roster have senior national team experience, something that Clark does not have.

"She's certainly going to continue to get better and better," USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley added. "Really hope that she's a big part of our future going forward."

Rizzotti said it would have been "irresponsible" to base roster decisions on anything outside of a basketball context. Marketing and popularity were not on the selection committee’s list of criteria. 

"It would be irresponsible for us to talk about her in a way other than how she would impact the play of the team," Rizzotti said. "Because it wasn't the purview of our committee to decide how many people would watch or how many people would root for the US. It was our purview to create the best team we could for Cheryl."

Clark expressed that she'll be using what some consider a snub as fuel for a run at the 2028 Olympic team. 

"I think it just gives you something to work for," Clark told media after practice Sunday. "It's a dream. Hopefully one day I can be there. I think it's just a little more motivation. You remember that. Hopefully when four years comes back around, I can be there."

Watch more: "Were Caitlin Clark and Arike Ogunbowale snubbed?" on Expert Adjacent

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