Rolling Out

Angel Reese finally returns to LSU basketball team after absence

The self-titled “Bayou Barbie” won LSU’s first national championship in April but this season has gotten off to a turbulent beginning
LSU forward Angel Reese. (Image source: TikTok - @angelreese10)

The “Bayou Barbie” is back. Finally.

Angel Reese, the award-winning player for the defending national champion LSU Tigers women’s basketball team, reportedly returns to the team following an unexplained four-game absence.

And Tigers fans can finally exhale.

Reese, 21, the flavorful and flamboyant center, became the darling of the collegiate sports world following the Tigers’ emphatic vanquishing of the Iowa Hawkeyes to take home the national title. It was the first ever for the Baton Rouge-based school, and, as the marquee player, Reese cashed in on her newfound fame, both literally and figuratively.

Reese became the highest NIL (name, image, and likeness) earner during the summer of 2023 in all of college basketball, men or women, and one of the tops in all of collegiate sports, ranking just behind the likes of basketball star Bronny James and football quarterback Arch Manning.

However, the Tigers stumbled out of the gate to begin the 2023-24 season in October. Ranked No. 1 in the nation, the Tigers were stunned by Top 10 team Colorado en route to a thorough thrashing, 92-78, with Reese experiencing a bad shooting night.
A few games later, Reese was benched in the second half of the blowout win over Kent State, but neither Reese nor her coach, Kim Mulkey, explained. Rumors and controversy mushroomed exponentially when Reese missed the team’s next four games, including two in the Cayman Islands over Thanksgiving.

Again, Mulkey provided no rationale for Reese’s absence. The Bayou Barbie, however, did send fans a brief message when some fans speculated that Reese was being punished for a very low GPA.

“Please don’t believe everything you read,” was all that Reese advised her three million Instagram followers.
Reese’s return was trumpeted with the same flair for the theatrics by which coach Mulkey handles most things publicly.
“Angel’s back,” Mulkey deadpanned, according to ESPN.

“It’s a boost having her back,” Mulkey said. “She’s a tremendous player, one of the best in the country. She gives us a good matchup with [Elizabeth] Kitley, but it’s not just for this game — it’s for the rest of the season.”

Currently ranked No. 7, the Tigers continue on their arduous title defense without two key players, junior guard Kateri Poole, for unspecified reasons, and Sa’Myah Smith, who is lost for the season after rupturing her ACL, MCL, and medial meniscus in her knee.

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