Angel Reese ‘super excited’ for ‘direction’ of WNBA and details ‘inspirational’ mentor Shaquille O’Neal

Angel Reese said she is “super excited” by the “really great direction” that the WNBA is heading in, after being drafted into the league by the Chicago Sky earlier this month.

Reese was selected by the Sky with the No. 7 pick in the 2024 WNBA draft, pairing her up with former South Carolina star Kamilla Cardoso – who had been picked No. 3 – in what looks likely to prove a formidable front court.

In her introductory press conference with Chicago on Wednesday, the 21-year-old spoke about what she’s gleaned already from her fellow professionals.

“Being able to talk to a lot of the vets, they were telling me they were super excited for us to come here and be in this amazing league and being able to be embraced by vets is something that I love and being able to be appreciated,” Reese told reporters.

“They understand and they know our impact and they embrace that and we’re all just trying to go in the right direction, and I think we’re going up right now. Being able to see so many different things with the networks, with the ticket sales, with the jersey sales, like, I think we’re in a really great direction and having support from your vets is amazing.”

Reese enters the WNBA as a bonafide star in women’s basketball having risen to the top with LSU.

The forward was named SEC Player of the Year last year and was a three-time AP All-American; Reese also won the national title with LSU in 2023.

Away from the court, Reese is still a recognizable figure across the US, with her and Caitlin Clark leading women’s basketball’s recent popularity surge.

And the former LSU Tiger addressed the spotlight she has found herself in recently as she transfers to the pro game.

“I think I’ve taken on that role, a lot of players have, a lot of the players in my class,” Reese said when asked how she’s handled being a celebrity athlete.

“I think it was a really historic class and being able to change things going into the right direction is really important and I think our impact and our platform that we have and we’ve used at a great level I think is really inspiring to so many people right now.”

Reese was selected with the No. 7 pick of the 2024 WNBA draft. - Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters
Reese was selected with the No. 7 pick of the 2024 WNBA draft. - Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Advice from a legend

One person who knows a thing or two about handling the transition from college to professional basketball is Reese’s fellow LSU alum Shaquille O’Neal.

O’Neal had a stellar career with the Tigers before being drafted with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1992 NBA draft. He would go on to win four NBA titles and retire as one of the league’s all-time greats.

Last year, Shaq called Reese “probably the greatest athlete ever to come out of LSU sports.”

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Reese talked about all the help O’Neal has been providing her as she makes the jump to the WNBA.

“Yeah, I talked to [O’Neal]. He congratulated me after I got drafted, of course,” she said. “He’s been super inspirational to me.

“He talked to me about when he went into the league as a rookie and just being able to go in and just try to dominate and just be able to learn and understand, but don’t take any prisoners. Go in with an open mindset, of course, but you know what’s on the line and what you want to live up to.”

Reese will join Cardoso in Chicago as they look to improve on the team’s defeat in the first round of the 2023 playoffs at the hands of the eventual champion Las Vegas Aces.

Cardoso was a two-time NCAA national champion with South Carolina and enters the league with the potential of becoming one of the WNBA’s most dominant centers.

In Reese and Cardoso, the Sky have a potentially game-changing frontcourt and the former LSU star is excited with what’s to come in the Windy City.

“I’ve been playing Kamilla since high school, so I’ve always known what she can do,” she said. “Being able to have a post player that can run rim-to-rim as fast as she can and me being able to go with her and run with her.

“I mean, if I miss a defensive assignment, she’s gonna be there and if she misses a defensive assignment, I’m gonna be there.”

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