LSU women’s basketball makes Angel Reese ban decision as star left home

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (AP) With LSU standout player Angel Reese, a Baltimore native, out of action and coach Kim Mulkey providing little explanation, the seventh-ranked Tigers are facing unwanted attention at the start of their national title defense.

Recent drama involving not only Reese’s absence, but also critical comments by some players’ parents on social media, erupted shortly after a surprising season-opening loss for what appears to be the quintessential super team in this new era of relaxed rules governing transfers and player endorsement earnings.

On Monday, there was no indication that Reese would return for the team’s home game against Texas Southern.

Grant Kauvar, spokesman for the LSU women’s basketball program, said he couldn’t anticipate when Reese would return, adding that fans would have to “come to the game and see.” That echoed Mulkey’s remarks prior to last Friday’s game at Southeastern Louisiana, which Reese missed.

Mulkey’s reluctance to speak about Reese, one of the most popular and financially successful athletes in all of women’s collegiate sports, has created a public relations headache for LSU and may have left more room for speculation than the school would have liked. However, based on what Mulkey has revealed—calling Reese’s second-half benching versus Kent State last Tuesday a “coach’s decision”—it does not appear to be a compliance issue.

During a back-and-forth on Instagram, Kia Brooks, the mother of sophomore guard Flau’Jae Johnson, commented on Reese’s academic achievement.

Angel Webb Reese, Reese’s mother, had critiqued Brooks’ grammar in an earlier post, to which Brooks responded, “You obviously know about grammar issues when your daughter has a 2.0-or-less grade point average. Stop being petty, false, and spiteful, and accept responsibility for your own and your daughter’s behavior.”

Brooks’ particular reference to Reese’s grade point average has not been verified. Universities do not distribute transcripts without the student’s agreement, and Mulkey has declined to comment on the parents’ posts.

It would be extremely unusual for a player to begin missing games due to academic eligibility after the basketball season had begun but before the end of the first semester of the academic year.

Furthermore, players who are barred from playing in games for scholastic reasons are still authorized to participate in other team events and even sit on the bench with teammates while out of uniform during games.

Reese, who has roughly 378,000 followers on the social networking site X (previously Twitter), has been largely silent on the website, with the exception of one tweet over the weekend that stated, “Please don’t believe everything you read.”

When Reese was absent from Friday night’s 73-50 win over Southeastern, Mulkey stated, “Angel is a member of this basketball team, and we hope to see her sooner than later.”

Mulkey provided no further explanation and did not answer any additional questions about Reese. No LSU players were available for post-game interviews.

Jeanine Ogbonnaya, Reese’s agent, did not immediately return a message left by The Associated Press.

Coming off a national title in Mulkey’s second season, and with Reese joined by high-profile transfers Hailey Van Lith and Aneesah Morrow, as well as coveted five-star recruit Mikaylah Williams, LSU is arguably the first women’s basketball super team since the NCAA relaxed transfer rules, allowing players to maintain amateur status while earning money from their name, image, and likeness.

LSU opened the season rated first. But a loss to then-No. 20 Colorado — which has since risen to No. 5 — knocked LSU out of the top five – for now.

LSU hasn’t lost since, but it hasn’t faced another major conference team, and it won’t until this Saturday in the Cayman Islands Classic against Virginia.

Reese started LSU’s first four games, averaging 17 points and 10.3 rebounds as the Tigers went 3–1.

Reese, dubbed the “Bayou Barbie,” guided LSU to its first national championship in women’s basketball last season. She has also used her reputation to secure name, image, and likeness endorsements for more than $1 million, placing her among the highest-paid female collegiate athletes.

Last season, Reese led the Southeastern Conference in both scoring (23 points per game) and rebounding (15.4 per game), making him only the fourth player to do so.

Her 34 double-doubles that season set an NCAA record, and her 23 consecutive double-doubles to start last season surpassed Sylvia Fowles’ previous LSU mark of 19.

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