In the aftermath of LSU basketball’s title-clinching win over Iowa in the 2023 NCAA championship game, Angel Reese achieved celebrity status.
So entering the 2023-24 season, Tigers head coach Kim Mulkey asked: Would her star player come into the new year with the same drive to win?
“Your concern is: Is Angel Reese hungry?” Mulkey said. “She’s making money like crazy. Is she gonna be hungry for another ring? You get a feel for that in your first individual meetings.”
Her first meeting with Reese put to rest any concerns.
“When I sat down with Angel and talked with her about her summer, and then we talked about her being here, she said, ‘Coach, I’m tired. I’m so glad to be back. I’m ready to play basketball,'” Mulkey said Monday after LSU’s first official practice of the season.
Reese did have a busy offseason, which included winning the ESPY award for Best Breakthrough Athlete, modeling for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, launching her own nonprofit foundation and more. She also grew her personal brand, with her NIL valuation reaching $1.7 million, according to On3.
Still, Mulkey knows Reese is ready for her senior season, with her eyes set on another national championship — and the 2024 WNBA Draft.
“I was looking to hear that and I didn’t have to pull it out of her,” Mulkey said. “She understands that she had the most unbelievable year of her college career and it was fun. You’re not entitled to that again. She’s working. She’s done her obligations.”
The LSU head coach enters the new season after a health scare. Mulkey, 61, underwent a potentially life-saving heart procedure in June to unclog one of her coronary arteries, which was almost completely blocked. But she too is ready to dive into the title defense with Reese, star transfers Hailey Van Lith and Aneesah Morrow and the rest of the Tigers.
The defending champions open their season against Colorado on Nov. 6 in Las Vegas as part of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Series. The game will provide an early test, as the Buffaloes ranked in the top 25 at the end of the 2022-23 season.