'One of the greats': What's Angel Reese's legacy at LSU women's basketball? What fans said

BATON ROUGE At the end of the team lineup during player introductions, Amari Bartlett places a crown on top the head of Angel Reese, who then flashes a wide smile accompanied by glimmering eyes and a peace sign.

When LSU women's basketball are playing at home inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, Reese is engulfed with feverous, high-pitched cheers.

For the next two-plus hours, she's their purple and gold queen. Or as Reese is now affectionately known, their "Bayou Barbie" a moniker for which Reese, once again Sunday afternoon after LSU's 77-56 win over Kentucky where she and fellow senior Hailey Van Lith were recognized on Senior Day, credits the fan base.

Home or away, Tiger fans have gravitated toward Reese. She's become the face of LSU women's basketball, a once-proud program that's had some success but not quite to the level with her leading the team.

Andrea Snearl has been a season ticket holder since 2000 and had been regularly attending games long before that. What the fan base has seen from Reese the last two seasons, she said, has been nothing short of generational.

"She led LSU to a championship, she's broken records just the fan base, everybody just loves her," Snearl told The Daily Advertiser prior to Senior Day Sunday. "She'll go down in LSU history for sure."

The LSU star has had the propensity to be unapologetically herself and she's played a part in the uptick in television viewership for women's college basketball. She's also made LSU a hot ticket the past two seasons.

Baton Rouge native Suzette Ross has caught countless LSU women's games for years at home on TV. But her desire to see Reese and this team play got her out to her first game against Alabama back on Feb. 11.

"It's amazing (to see in person). It was a lot different that on TV," Ross said. "She's a great player and she brings a lot of energy to the team. She seems like a great person that kids can look up to. A team player, a friend, a person that's a good access to the team."

For fans, Reese has been a "perfect fit." Southern Louisiana culture is engrained with uniqueness married with acceptance. A place where anyone could have room to grow and shine in their own light.

In all those ways, LSU was perfect for Reese.

"I hope (fans look to me) as someone who was just unapologetically herself," Reese said Sunday. "Coming in every day being happy, work hard and doing whatever it takes to win, I feel like I made a lot of sacrifices coming here. Not really knowing what it was going to be and taking that step of faith. Letting other players know that taking that step is hard but it can change your life. Look how my life has changed in a year-and-a-half, it's crazy.

"You can come here and be you. On and off the court, I've been able to grow and be who I am. That's what I want to leave my legacy as."

Reese helped Kim Mulkey and LSU win an NCAA championship in her first season. She's graced the cover of several magazines, been a guest on talk shows, signed lucrative Name, Image and Likeness deals that further her brand as well as draw the eyes of diehards or casuals alike to women's basketball.

The LSU star has spurned new interest, brought new fans into the fold, young and older. Take 11-year-old Lily Cradeur, whose mom, Brandy, brought her and her 10-year-old friend, Halle Shearer, to the LSU-Kentucky game.

Waiting in line several minutes before doors opened to go to their first game, Cradeur sported a black "Bayou Barbie" hoodie. Both Cradeur and Shearer agreed that Reese's personality and confidence was one of the first things that drew them in as fans.

LSU BEATS KENTUCKY ON SENIOR DAY LSU women's basketball honor Angel Reese, Hailey Van Lith on Senior Day, beat Kentucky

SHAQ ESCORTS ANGEL REESE ON SENIOR DAY Angel Reese and her mother had a special escort for LSU's senior day: Shaq

"Her confidence when I play, when I study her, I have confidence and look up to her," Shearer said. "I can learn things from her to try and practice. After they won the championship last year, I've just been looking up to her."

LSU women's basketball and Angel Reese fans Lily Cradeur, left, and Halle Shearer pose for a picture while waiting in line prior to LSU's game against Kentucky at Pete Maravich Assembly Center Sunday, March 3, 2024.
LSU women's basketball and Angel Reese fans Lily Cradeur, left, and Halle Shearer pose for a picture while waiting in line prior to LSU's game against Kentucky at Pete Maravich Assembly Center Sunday, March 3, 2024.

Brandy Cradeur said that she has no background in basketball but that Reese has become a great influence for her daughter and her teammates on their basketball team, on and off the court. Reese has become a large reason their love for the game has expanded while picking up ways to care for their teammates.

"The love for women's basketball is increasing," Lily Cradeur said. "It shows that girls can play basketball at a very high level, too. Angel has definitely made women's basketball show way better than it used to. She's made it way better."

Fans of all ages have varying favorite Angel Reese moments. The "You Can't See Me" gesture during last season's national championship game may take the cake like it does for Snearl and Ross but her blocking Arkansas guard Samara Spencer's shot while holding her own shoe is the one that stands out for Shearer.

Reese's impact has been transformative, rippling beyond LSU's campus down to future women's basketball ballers like Shearer and Cradeur throughout the state. It's there where what Reese has meant to LSU and the fan base takes form.

"She stands out for this state. She's a big person for Louisiana," Shearer said. "LSU has been known for football but now it's women's basketball."

Cory Diaz covers the LSU Tigers and Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns for The Daily Advertiser as part of the USA TODAY Network. Follow his Tigers and Cajuns coverage on Twitter: @ByCoryDiaz. Got questions regarding LSU/UL athletics? Send them to Cory Diaz at

This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: What LSU women's basketball fans said Angel Reese's impact has been