Angel Reese Opens Up On League Expectations Ahead Of Draft Day

Ahead of the big night that will determine her trajectory in the pros, Angel Reese stopped by Raising Cane’s in New York City’s Greenwich Village to “work a shift” and greet her fans as a collegiate athlete for the last time.

When asked what she’s remaining mindful of as she transitions from NCAA starlet to big league rookie, Reese says her influence on the next generation is what’s keeping her motivated.

“Giving young little girls the look that they can do these things,” Reese says. “You never really see a young Black girl being able to do this, so I want them to have a face [to look to] and understand they can have these same opportunities that I have.”

“Being able to leave your mark…it’s bigger than basketball,” she continued, speaking of her impact. “I know I’m a great basketball player, but a lot of people look at me as an inspiration, and I want to be that when I leave the game and hang my jersey up for the very last time.”

Angel Reese Opens Up On League Expectations Ahead Of Draft Day

While the baller beauty is keenly aware of the millions of young eyes looking up at her right now, she was once in those shoes drawing her own inspiration. For her, the hero was her mother.

“My mom was a single mom taking care of me and my brother,” she tells ESSENCE. “Me and my brother are 11 months apart, so the schedule was crazy, [us] being able to do so many different sports, but my grandparents were amazing as well. She gave me the inspiration that you can do whatever you put your mind to. Never depend on anybody. That’s why I’m so independent and able to be so strong. It’s because of her.”

Reese’s undeniable talent and fiery on-court personality have gotten her both lauded and unduly ridiculed during her time at LSU. Through the ups and downs of her collegiate career, Reese has remained focused, with her famed crown affixed firmly to her head – literally and figuratively. Though the crown is something she says she likely won’t be bringing to the WNBA, it’s one of many fond memories of her time in Baton Rouge.

Angel Reese Opens Up On League Expectations Ahead Of Draft Day

“It’s a family, being able to be at LSU,” Reese said of lessons she learned as a Tiger. “Every given night, they’re coming out to show love to women’s basketball and that kind of gave me hope. That gave me a platform where I can speak out and know that they have my back.”

“Through everything, I know I’m always going to be the Bayou Barbie because Louisiana is always going to be home for me.”

Bidding farewell to the school and athletic program that helped shape her, Reese is ready to take on the next chapter in her career. Though she’s prepared to give it her all and chase her goal of becoming one of the sport’s greats, she says she goes in with great reverence for the women who are already in the position she strives for.

“I’m going to be a rookie in a big league where there are a lot of women who have been great before me, and they’ve set the tone,” she says. “I’m going in there with respect because of who they are and what they’ve done.”

Angel Reese Opens Up On League Expectations Ahead Of Draft Day

“I’m excited. I know the game is about to go crazy. I know the viewership is going up and I’ve been seeing all the things on social media, how we’re able to elevate that – even if it’s just the rookies being able to give that [extra] publicity to the vets because they deserve it.”

But make no mistake, this starlet of the hardwood plans to make just as big a mark in the pros as she made in the NCAA.

“I want to be ready to learn and grow from the vets, of course, but I [do] want to go in and dominate.”

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