It was December 9, 2018, I wanted to see some good high school basketball. Turned out 2 of my buddies were playing against each other. Charles Grasty was taking his Abington Ghosts to Washington, D.C. to face Nick Myles and his St. Frances Panthers. The game was at Gonzaga High School in Washington, D.C.
That’s about 2 hours… Gas up… I’m out…
I’m watching a strong Abington squad led by Eric Dixon (Villanova) and Lucas Monroe (Penn) take on Ace Baldwin (VCU) and Rajier Jones (Chicago State).
St. Frances was nationally ranked and Abington was a dominant Pennsylvania Suburban One program. St. Frances jumped out on Abington early and never looked back, but it was an entertaining game and I really like both coaches and their kids.
Right in the middle of the action, a young lady tapped my shoulder and matter of factly said, “You are always watching the boys, you should come watch us play… We are better.”
“Oh… Really… Who do you play for?”
“St. Frances girls…”
Displaying my ignorance regarding the girls side of the game, I pushed back on her assertion, “Y’all better than the boys? Those guys are nationally ranked.”
“So are we.”
Hmmmmmm… I take a second to think here… This young lady is very, very self-assured, confident and dead serious…
“What’s your name?”
“Angel… Angel Reese.”
“Can you play? Are you any good?”
Again… I found myself totally lost on the girls side of thing… I had no idea who Angel Reese was… Absolutely none…
“You wanna play in college?”
“Have any colleges reached out yet?”
“Do you have any offers?”
“My top 5 is Maryland, Tennessee, USC, Syracuse and South Carolina.”
Ok… Now… I’m starting to get it… SHE IS DAT GIRL!
“South Carolina is by far the best program in women’s college basketball… In fact, I’m gonna FaceTime Dawn Staley right now… Dawn, this young lady said you want her to come play for you?”
Coach Staley kept it very short and to the point, “Del… She’s the one!”
“Ok… I’ll hit you later.”
I spend a great deal of time visiting the Boys program at St. Frances. I would run into Angel quite frequently and each and every time I extolled the virtues of my homie and her program in Columbia, South Carolina
“How could you even think about playing for someone other than Dawn. You do know she is DAWN STALEY right?”
Angel was very deliberate throughout her recruiting process. She took all of her official visits. Her mother, also named Angel Reese, was an accomplished Division 1 basketball player at UMBC. Ultimately, after comparing and contrasting the the offerings of the various suitors, Angel decided to attend the University of Maryland.
Maryland got “the one.”
Now there remained the matter of Black Cager Sports covering one of the St. Frances girls games. Finally on January 25, 2020, I got to watch the St. Frances girls, then ranked #6 in the nation, go against Baltimore Poly before a packed crowd at the Talmadge Hill Field House on the campus of Morgan State University.
Within a few trips up and down the floor, it was clear why the top college programs chased Reese so intently. Reese is an athletic face-up 4 with outstanding post moves and counter moves. She is also capable of facing up and attacking off the bounce. When she is on the court she creates immediate mismatches. Reese has very good length, she drives, draws contact and makes her free throws. She is also a very quick leaper and relentless offensive rebounder.
In short, the young lady is a whole problem.
Reese ended her senior season ranked #2 by ESPN and virtually every other publication of note. She was a member of the McDonalds and Jordan Brand Classic All-American Teams in 2020. She was named USA Today Maryland Player-of-the-Year in 2019 & 2020, All-Metro Player-of-the-Year in 2019, USA Today 2nd-team Maryland in 2018 and 1st-team All-Metro in 2017, 2018.
Can you play? WTF? I was forced to face the fact that Black Cager Sports has shortchanged the girls and the young women. Truthfully, I would immediately recognize any male basketball player with those type of accolades. I was woefully ignorant about scholastic basketball on the girls side and it was painfully obvious. Thankfully, Reese never made the ol’ head feel foolish despite my obvious shortcomings regarding the girl’s side. I thank her for motivating me to work harder to become far more familiar with and knowledgeable about high school and college basketball on the girls side.
I couldn’t wait to see what Reesse would do in the Big 10. During her freshman campaign, Reese only saw action in 15 games, and missed 14 due to a foot injury. Despite missing nearly 50% of the contests, Reese was named to All-Big Ten Freshman Team (2021) after averaging 10.0 points and 6.0 rebounds as a rookie.
Truth be told… The country didn’t get the full Angel Reese experience until this season.
Fully healthy, with four years of eligibility remaining, Reese is determined to lead the Terps to the Big 10 and NCAA Championship. Through 6 games, she is averaging 19.4 ppg and 12.0 rpg. Perhaps most impressive are her 7 offensive rebounds per game and her shooting percentage (55.7%) from the field.
Earlier this week, after watching yet another Men’s game at Maryland, I told her I wanted to come to a good game… Again… my ignorance about the girls side came quickly to the fore.
“We got Baylor Sunday.”
Well… That’s a damn good game. And… I had no idea it was taking place.
“I’ll be there.”
Sunday afternoon, I was positioned directly behind the Maryland bench. After Reese picked up her second foul in the first half, Maryland Coach Brenda Frese kept her on the bench. Maryland was short handed and Coach Frese would manage Reese’s minutes carefully. Coach Frese and Maryland had to dig deep to pull this one out. Nothing came easy… In addition to Reese’s foul trouble, Diamond Miller was unable to complete the game due to a lower leg injury. Also, two other key Maryland players are sick and were unavailable.
Coach Frese had to play the hand she was dealt. Three Maryland starters, Collins, Bibby and Sellers played the full 40 minutes. Another, Owusu played 39 minutes. Foul trouble limited to Reese to 19 minutes.
It is worth noting that while she sat for 21 minutes, Reese was the most vocal member of the Maryland contingency. Clapping, yelling and trying to telepathically will her teammates to victory. She bolted up from her seat and onto the court during each and every timeout, walked briskly on the court and emotionally greeted and motivated each Terp in the game with words of encouragement. She was the consummate teammate, totally engaged with the team and the coaches.
When she was on the court, Reese was very productive. In her 19 minute run, Reese finished with 17 points, 9 rebounds, 5 offensive rebounds and 2 steals. Most importantly, Coach Frese deftly managed the foul trouble and was able to have Reese on the court when it mattered most.
After closing a double digit gap, Baylor was within 3 points of the Terps with 1:30 left in the game. After being called for offensive fouls earlier in the contest, Reese had the ball in the right corner. She was closely defended by the magnificent NaLyssa Smith (30 pts, 15 rebs).
On this possession there were no ball fakes, no interior footwork, no crossovers… The southpaw Reese bounced the ball in her right hand and initiated contact with Smith…Bump… Both women gathered themselves, Reese dribbled and again initiated contact… Bump again… By then, she was positioned under the right side of the basket. Reese played through the contact and through Smith. She muscled in a right-handed layup as Smith swung down in an attempt to block the shot.
Foul… and one…
78-73 with 1:08 left.
Reese made the free throw…
Baylor would make a 3 point shot with 0:38 left to close it to 79-76.
That would be the final score.
I gotta get back there to see Reese and the Terps a few more times. She’s one of the best college basketball players in the nation… male or female.
Ask her… She’ll tell you.