BATON ROUGE, LA. (AP) – With LSU star Angel Reese out of action and little explanation from coach Kim Mulkey, the seventh-seeded Tigers are attracting unwanted scrutiny at the start of their national title defense.
The latest drama, involving not only Reese’s absence, but also critical comments by some of the players’ families on social media, began shortly after the shocking loss in the season opener to what on paper appears to be the perfect superteam in this new era of relaxed rules governing… Transfers and contracts. Player endorsement earnings.
On Monday, there was no indication Reese would be back with the team for a home game against Texas Southern.
Grant Kovar, spokesman for the LSU women’s basketball program, said he couldn’t predict when Reese would return, adding that people would just have to “come to the game and see.” That echoed Mulkey’s comments before last Friday’s game at Southeastern Louisiana, Which Reese missed.
Mulkey’s reticence about Reese — one of the most popular and commercially successful athletes in all of women’s college sports — has presented a public relations challenge for LSU and perhaps opened more room for speculation than LSU might like. However, from what Mulkey revealed a little — where he called Reese’s sitting out the second half against Kent State last Tuesday a “coach’s decision” — it doesn’t appear to be a compliance issue.
During a back-and-forth on Instagram, sophomore guard Flaw Jay Johnson’s mother, Kia Brooks, made a comment about Reese’s academic performance.
Reese’s mother, Angel Webb Reese, criticized Brooks’ grammar in a previous post, to which Brooks responded, “You sure know about grammar mistakes when your daughter has a grade point average of 2.0 or lower. …Stop being petty, fake, and obnoxious, and take responsibility Your actions and your daughter’s actions.
Brooks’s specific reference to the average Reese score has not been confirmed. Universities do not release transcripts without permission from the student in question, and Mulkey declined to comment on parent posts.
It would be highly unusual for a player to begin missing games due to academic eligibility after the start of the basketball season but before the end of the first semester of the academic year.
In addition, players banned from participating in games for academic reasons are still allowed to participate in other team activities and even sit on the bench with teammates outside of uniform during games.
Reese, who has nearly 378,000 followers on the social media site
When Reese sat out Friday night’s 73-50 win over Southeastern, Mulkey said, “Angel is a part of this basketball team, and hopefully we’ll see her sooner rather than later.”
Mulkey offered no further explanation and did not answer any additional questions about Reese. No LSU players were made available for postgame interviews.
Reese’s agent, Jeanine Ogbonnaya, also did not immediately respond to a message left by the Associated Press.
Coming off a national title in just Mulkey’s second season, and with Reese joining high-profile transfers Hailey Van Lith and Anissa Morrow, along with coveted five-star recruit Mikayla Williams, LSU is arguably the first super women’s basketball team since the The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) changed transfer rules and allowed players to retain amateur status while earning money from their name, image and likeness.
LSU entered the season ranked No. 1. But then no loss. 20 Colorado – which has been since then It rose to number 3 – Drop LSU out of the top five – for now.
LSU hasn’t lost since, but it hasn’t played any other major conference team, and won’t do so until meeting Virginia on Saturday in the Cayman Islands Classic.
Reese started LSU’s first four games, averaging 17 points and 10.3 rebounds as the Tigers took a 3-1 lead.
Nicknamed “Bayou Barbie,” Reese led LSU to its first national title in women’s basketball last season. She has also parlayed her popularity into endorsement by name, image and likeness She is worth over $1 million, making her one of the highest-paid college athletes.
Reese led the Southeastern Conference in both scoring (23 points per game) and rebounding (15.4 points per game) last season, becoming only the fourth player to lead the league in both categories.
Her 34 double-doubles that season set an NCAA record, and her 23 consecutive double-doubles to start last season broke Sylvia Fowles’ previous record of 19 at LSU.
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AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll And https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball