In the world of college athletics, there are few names that have garnered as much attention and admiration as Angel Reese. Her incredible journey throughout 2023 has not only seen her set records on the basketball court but also establish herself as one of the most prominent figures in the realm of college sports.
Just recently, Reese, alongside Iowa's Caitlin Clark, was honored with the prestigious title of Sporting News Athlete of the Year. This award, presented by one of the nation's oldest sporting publications, has been recognizing outstanding athletes since 1968. Legends like Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James have all been previous recipients, and last year, the honor went to Lionel Messi. This year, Reese and Clark edged out formidable competition, including Nikola Jokic, to claim their rightful place as the winners.
Reese's journey to success began when she transferred to LSU from Maryland, instantly making waves as the top player in the transfer portal. With just over 70K followers on Instagram at the time, Reese's popularity skyrocketed, now boasting an impressive 2.5 million followers. Her captivating performances on the court, combined with her burgeoning brand off the court, have made her one of the most prolific athletes in America.
It's no surprise that Reese has garnered national attention. She has been featured in prestigious publications such as the New York Times, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and The Athletic. Her influence has even crossed over into American pop culture, with appearances on Saturday Night Live and in popular rap music. Reese has graced the covers of Sports Illustrated twice and has been recognized in Teen Vogue, the TIME NEXT100 list, and Forbes' esteemed 30 under 30 list. Additionally, she was awarded the 2023 ESPY for Best Breakthrough Athlete.
On the court, Reese's dominance knows no bounds. She made an explosive entrance at LSU, recording double-doubles in the first 23 games of the season. This incredible feat set an LSU record for consecutive double-doubles and an SEC record for consecutive double-doubles at the start of a season. A force to be reckoned with, Reese finished the season with an NCAA record of 24 double-doubles, averaging an astonishing 23.0 points and 15.4 rebounds per game.
But Reese's impact extends beyond her statistics. Her viral moments on the court, such as the unforgettable 'Shoe Block' against Arkansas and the mesmerizing and-one tik-tok dance against Tennessee, have made her a common topic of discussion among fans and media alike.
Reese's journey culminated in a victorious season for the LSU Tigers. Despite facing challenging losses at South Carolina and against Tennessee in the SEC Tournament semi-finals, Reese and her team used these setbacks as learning opportunities. Their resilience paid off as they emerged as the champions, securing LSU's first-ever national championship. Reese's stellar performance earned her the title of Most Outstanding Player in the Final Four, averaging an impressive 21.3 points and 15.1 rebounds in six NCAA Tournament games.
The national championship game pitted LSU against Iowa, with the Tigers delivering an unforgettable performance and setting an NCAA Championship game record with 102 points. Clark, Reese's counterpart from Iowa, also captivated fans with her remarkable shooting ability, making the Final Four an event unlike any other. The excitement surrounding these two exceptional athletes contributed to a record-breaking viewership of 9.9 million, generating immense buzz and anticipation for the upcoming season.
Angel Reese's meteoric rise has been nothing short of extraordinary. Her exceptional skills on the court, combined with her captivating presence off the court, have solidified her status as one of the most influential figures in college athletics. As her journey continues, there's no doubt that Reese will continue to leave an indelible mark on the world of sports.