'Bayou Barbie' Angel Reese ready for her next act with Chicago Sky in WNBA

NEW YORK — Angel Reese certainly doesn’t have a lack of confidence.

She looked like a star ready to take over the league as she strolled on the orange carpet, posing for photographs before the WNBA draft in a sparkly black dress, befitting her self-proclaimed moniker "Bayou Barbie."

That wasn’t the case two weeks ago after a defeat to Iowa in the NCAA Tournament when Reese broke down crying and said she had a challenging year. This included being benched early in the season and missing four other games for reasons that still have not been explained.

But she did address the perception that she was a villain.

“I don’t really get to speak out on things just because I try to ignore and I just try to stand strong. I would still sit here and say, ‘I’m unapologetically me.’ I’m going to always leave that mark and be who I am and stand on that,” Reese said after that Iowa loss.

Undeterred, Reese again put together an excellent season, averaging 18.6 points and 13.4 rebounds per game and winning the SEC Player of the Year award.

The Chicago Sky drafted the LSU star with the No. 7 pick in the WNBA draft and she says she lives by the motto, “Every day the sun don’t shine, that’s why I love tomorrow."

And with the increased eyeballs on the league this year because of her and some of her contemporaries (including one whose last name is Clark), Reese is more than ready for the spotlight.

“We need to market around that,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Englebert said before Monday’s draft.

Before the draft, Reese said it didn’t matter to her where she got drafted but she hoped to go into the right fit and a chance to showcase her skills, which included 61 double-doubles in the past two seasons.

The Sky is coached by Hall of Famer Teresa Weatherspoon, who was coached by LSU's Kim Mulkey when she was an assistant at Louisiana Tech.

"Knowing the conversations were so good, she felt like a mother to me. Being able to be a black woman as a head coach," Reese said. "I just knew everything they were bringing to the table. I'm super excited for this move and looking forward to getting to Chicago."

The 21-year-old Reese could have used her extra COVID season to come back to LSU. But after winning a national championship and being one of the marquee names in women's basketball, she felt it was time to move on.

"Coming back would’ve been amazing for me, but I wanted more for myself," Reese said. "I wanted to start over. I felt like I had been on a high since the national championship and I wanna hit rock bottom."

Chicago went 18-22 last season and are just three years removed from winning its first WNBA championship.

"I want to 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, so I’m just super excited to play with amazing players and against amazing players," Reese said. "This league is really competitive, and I’m a competitive player, so I wanna play against a lot of players."

Reese says she is looking forward to bonding with new teammate, former South Carolina center Kamilla Cardoso.

The two players were not only rivals in college competing in the SEC, but also when Reese attended Saint Frances Academy in Baltimore in high school and Cardoso went to Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Cardoso did have one prediction for the season.

"She's a great player and I'm a great player. Nobody's gonna get more rebounds than us," Cardoso said. "I think we are going to do great things together."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Angel Reese ready for WNBA, be teammates with Kamilla Cardoso