How Angel Reese will fit in with the Chicago Sky. It all starts with rebounding

Angel Reese is brash, bold and, in college at least, one of the best ballers in the country.

But how does her game translate to the WNBA?

Monday night, Reese was selected by the Chicago Sky with the No. 7 overall pick, joining SEC rival Kamilla Cardoso from South Carolina, who the Sky took No. 3 overall, and Gonzaga sharpshooter Brynna Maxwell, who they drafted at No. 13 overall.

A three-time All-American who led LSU to the 2023 national championship — its first in women’s basketball — Reese is a 6-foot-3 forward who will get plenty of minutes early on in Chicago.

The Sky, who traded All-Star Kahleah Copper in the offseason, are undergoing a rebuild under new coach Teresa Weatherspoon, a WNBA legend when she played from 1997-2004. Weatherspoon was a defensive specialist, and Reese, who’s known for her relentless, high-energy game, should fit in well with that style of coach.

Reese is an intriguing pro prospect. She’s a tremendous athlete with a great motor, a gifted rebounder who reads the ball off the glass extremely well. At LSU this season, she averaged 18.6 points and 13.4 rebounds per game, one of just a handful of players in women’s college basketball to average a double-double.

But one important thing to note about all those double-doubles: Reese rebounds a lot of her own misses, something that likely won’t be available to her in the WNBA because other forwards will grab the board first — including her teammate.

Angel Reese embraces LSU coach Kim Mulkey after she is selected with the number seven overall pick by the Chicago Sky in the 2024 WNBA draft.
Angel Reese embraces LSU coach Kim Mulkey after she is selected with the number seven overall pick by the Chicago Sky in the 2024 WNBA draft.

“She’s a great player and I’m a great player,” Cardoso told reporters about playing with Reese. “Nobody’s gonna get more rebounds than us.”

Chicago ranked No. 9 last season in total rebounds, and the Sky clearly focused on improving their performance on the glass with their two first-round picks. Reese and Cardoso will be expected to collect a lot of boards from Day 1. (Interestingly, the Sky were fourth in the league in offensive boards, the top skill Reese and Cardoso will bring to Chicago.)

Reese shot just 47.1% from the field at LSU this season, 108th in the nation. It’ll be interesting to see how Reese adjusts to not being able to get every rebound she wants. If she can improve her field goal percentage in the paint so she won’t need to grab so many.

Another impressive, and somewhat surprising part of her game: Reese gets to the foul line more than any other 2024 draft prospect. She shot 266 free throws in 33 games during the 2023-24 season, hitting 72.6% of her attempts. It’s especially noteworthy for a forward to shoot that much because usually it’s the guards who drive and create contact who find themselves at the charity stripe the most. (Caitlin Clark, in comparison, shot 264 free throws in 39 games.) The Sky shot the fewest free throws in the league last summer, so this Reese skill will be particularly welcomed in Chicago.

Probably the most concerning issue as Reese heads to the pros is that she has not displayed a consistent outside shot. It's possible she has it and just hasn't shown it off much, because in LSU’s offense, it wasn’t Reese’s job to shoot from the perimeter. Had she stayed in college for her COVID year, Reese would have benefitted from playing outside of the paint for an entire season. Still, she’s an excellent facilitator and has a high basketball IQ; though she only averaged 2.3 assists per game, she knows where the ball needs to go and how to get it there. That will be a big help as she transitions in Chicago.

Reese knows there are questions and doubts about her game at the next level. But she relishes the opportunity to learn, and her tireless work ethic will serve her well as she begins her pro career.

“Coming back would’ve been amazing for me, but I wanted more for myself,” Reese said after she was selected. “I wanted to start over. I felt like I had been on a high since the national championship and I wanna hit rock bottom. I wanna be a rookie again, I wanna be knocked down by vets and I wanna be able to get up and grow and be a sponge.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Angel Reese brings strong glass game to Chicago Sky