When Angel Reese decided to stay close to home and join the Maryland women’s basketball team, her mother and namesake, Angel Reese, was proud but nervous about the pressure that may bring.
Even before this weekend’s showcase, the freshman’s mother noticed a shift in the response she got from locals whenever she left the house. People used to ask if she was Angel’s mother but now, whenever she’s out, she gets asked if Angel is her daughter, she said.
Laughing, the elder Reese added, “People definitely recognize Angel and, I swear, every single time Angel and I go to the mall, it is without fail that someone recognizes her.”
Reese’s younger brother, 2021 forward Julian Reese, officially signed with the Maryland men’s basketball team in November. As thrilled as their mother is that both her children will be playing so close to home, she feels that storyline may come along with added strain.
“I think a lot of people are expecting instant success with her,” she said. “But, I think Angel handles [pressure] pretty much okay, and I think she welcomes the pressure sometimes. She’s probably her biggest critic in everything.”
Expectations were high as Reese headed into her first weekend of college play, but she delivered in a dominant fashion. Across her first three games, Reese tallied 51 points at a 56.3% clip, 26 boards and was just one rebound shy of a double-double in two of those matchups. The performance, rightfully so, earned her All-Tournament Team honors and Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week.
In the third quarter against Davidson on Friday, the 6’3 Terp scored five consecutive points in just over a minute, also creating turnovers and steals to force a Wildcat timeout. Reese had seven points and six boards at the end of the first half on Saturday, and on Sunday she scored the first seven points of the second quarter for Maryland.
It’s safe to say, that along with the rest of head coach Brenda Frese’s incredibly deep roster, Reese was a spark this weekend and will continue to play an integral role in the team’s success this season.
The Baltimore native attended St. Frances Academy and was a McDonald’s All-American in 2020. Reese was the No. 2 recruit in her class, making her the highest-ranked player in program history.
“I’ve been really fortunate to recruit some pretty incredible, special players,” Frese said. “But when it’s all said and done, she might be right up there as the most competitive player that I have ever coached.”
Following her superstar debut this weekend, it’s apparent that Reese thrives in the spotlight that comes along with her past accolades, but she is also self-aware that there may be some growing pains with the transition to college.
In high school, Reese averaged 18 points, 20 rebounds and five assists per game and was named The Baltimore Sun’s Player of the Year as both a junior and senior. However, she is more focused on the team’s success than her personal goals.
“I just know I have to bring it because a lot of people are looking at me to bring a lot this year and a lot of expectations especially because of the people we lost, but it’s no pressure,” said Reese. “I know I can’t have a great game every game, but I know my communication, my leadership every game is going to be important.”
Despite being a new face and one of the youngest on the team, Reese is a vocal leader and has been since the first day she stepped on the court. Anyone who has the chance to watch a game this season can tell that she plays a role in bringing the energy level up, whether she is in the game or on the sideline.
Reese has referred to herself as the “baby” on the team, but understands that she was stepping into a competitive environment where she would have to bring something unique.
“If [Reese] doesn’t come out and compete, we’re like, ‘Okay, what’s wrong with you? Let’s pick you up,’” senior forward Chloe Bibby said. “It’s just so great to see. It doesn’t matter if you’re a senior or freshman, we’re all working towards the same goal and we question each other every day.”
Reese’s competitive nature and team-player mentality runs in her family. Her mother played four years of basketball on an athletic scholarship at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where she wore the number 10, the number Reese currently wears for the Terps. The elder Reese still holds records at UMBC and is in the school’s Athletics Hall of Fame.
“It starts from home,” said the younger Reese. “My mom is a single mom, so she always has been the type to be an independent woman and she’s taught me to always go out and fight for everything I have.”
Family has a strong influence on Reese’s life. As a kid, she would play against her brother and it helped both of them build their skill level. Despite fighting so much while playing that their mother took down the hoop, Reese attributes much of her competitiveness to playing against her brother and his friends.
Maryland pride runs in her family. From her mother’s collegiate career at UMBC to Reese’s time at St. Frances Academy, to her and her brother’s commitment to become Terps, the Reese crew has deep roots in the area. Such ties played a role in Reese’s decision to join the Maryland women’s basketball program, in addition to its reputation.
Her mother explained that her support starts in the Baltimore area and that their family is very proud of what the younger Reese has accomplished. The elder Reese even made it to the #BeachBubble showcase to cheer on her daughter with two of her sisters.
“I can do everything from home, especially because of my family. My grandparents have come to every game of my life, and they are getting older so I want to make sure that they can come to the games,” said Reese. “My mom is able to come to the games and for my brother to come here next year, it’s just great for my mom. I think it’s really a special place for me and I really want to be successful here and leave my legacy here.”