LSU’s Angel Reese has been benched by Kim Mulkey: What we know

Angel Reese, the All-American double-double queen who led LSU to its first women’s basketball championship in March, has had a rough start to the 2023-24 season. 

After being benched just four games into the season, Reese missed the entirety of No. 5 LSU’s 73-50 win over Southeastern Louisiana on Friday, Nov. 17. Questions were swirling about if Reese would play Monday night. Instead, Reese missed her second consecutive game.

‘Angel was not in uniform. She is a part of this basketball team,’ LSU coach Kim Mulkey said after the Tigers’ 106-47 win over Texas Southern on Monday night. ‘We hope she’s back with the team soon. I’m not going to answer any more than that.’

‘Sometimes you want to know more than you’re entitled to know. I’m going to protect my players,’ Mulkey added.

Here’s what we know about the situation. 

Why was Angel Reese benched? 

It started when LSU, the preseason No. 1 team in the country, got drilled by Colorado in its first game of the season on Nov. 6. The Tigers lost 92-78 in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score indicates. Reese scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, but shot just 6-of-15 from the field, missing lots of close looks. She was visibly frustrated throughout the game. 

Three games later, on Nov. 14, LSU coach Kim Mulkey benched Reese for the second half of the Tigers’ 109-79 win over Kent State. Reese played just 13 minutes that night, scoring 11 points. Mulkey offered little insight afterward, saying only that it was “coach’s decision” to not play Reese in the second half. 

Speculation about Reese’s absence ramped up three days later on Nov. 17, when Reese missed the 73-50 win over Southeastern Louisiana. She was not on the bench. Again, Mulkey refused to offer details on Reese. 

‘It’s very obvious Angel was not in uniform,” Mulkey said during her postgame press conference. “Angel is a part of this basketball team and we hope to see her sooner rather than later … I’m not going to answer anymore. That’s it. That’s all y’all need to know, OK?”

It’s unclear what exactly is going on. Mulkey has not specified if Reese was merely benched or has been officially suspended, if she’s being disciplined for something or suffering from some sort of injury. 

What has Angel Reese said about being benched?

Reese has not spoken to the media throughout this ordeal. On Sunday, she posted a cryptic message on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, writing simply, “please don’t believe everything you read.” 

On Instagram, Reese hasn’t posted to her grid since Oct. 24. But late Sunday evening, she posted a video on her Instagram stories of Colorado coach Deion Sanders. In the video, Sanders says, “Look at me. What about me would make you think that I care about your opinion of me? Your opinion of me is not the opinion that I have of myself. You ain’t make me, so you can’t break me. You didn’t build me, so you can’t kill me. 

“You know what, God established me, so ain’t nothing you can do to me. I been him, I been a difference maker, a game changer, I’ve been that guy. So what would change? Not a darn thing. I’m not even playing the game, and you’ve got an opinion of me. I love it, but I don’t care. And I wish the world thought like that, the youngsters, if you’re out there right now, do not give a darn what opinion people have of you, As long as that opinion isn’t consistent with that of yourself, you be you. I’m not playing to make you feel good about me. I already feel good about me. I’m good. Message for the youngsters out there and the old school, not the old fools.’

Angel Reese, social media and mom drama

As speculation has swirled about Reese’s status going forward, some have pointed to an apparent rift on social media between her mom, also named Angel Reese, and parents of other LSU players. Numerous social media comments have already been deleted, but the LSU student TV station detailed some of the drama in a recent video. 

Who is Angel Reese?

At 6-foot-3 with with obvious athleticism, Reese is one of the best players in women’s college basketball. After playing two seasons at Maryland, Reese transferred to LSU before the 2022-23 season. She led the Tigers to the 2023 national championship, averaging a double-double (23 ppg, 15.4 rpg) throughout the season and earning Final Four Most Outstanding Player honors. She is outgoing and unabashedly confident, a known and (sometimes) celebrated trash talker.  

Nicknamed “The Bayou Barbie,” a nod to her love of all things pink and girly, Reese is an NIL superstar. She posed in Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit issue, signed a deal with Reebok — home of former LSU basketball star Shaquille O’Neal — and has numerous other endorsements. 

Basketball runs in her blood: Her mom played at UMBC, and her brother Julian plays at Maryland. 

What’s next for LSU? 

LSU travels to the Cayman Islands over Thanksgiving. The Tigers’ first game is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 24, against Niagara. They play Virginia, one of the only Power Five schools on their schedule, on Saturday, Nov. 25. 

LSU’s biggest non-conference game will come Thursday, Nov. 30, against No. 9 Virginia Tech, another 2023 Final Four participant. 

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Follow Lindsay Schnell on social media: @Lindsay_Schnell

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