After mysteriously missing LSU’s last four games, Angel Reese has returned to the Tigers.
The Most Outstanding Player of the 2023 Women’s NCAA Tournament was benched for the second half back on Nov. 14, and rumors swirled she had been suspended.
Head coach Kim Mulkey provided little details on Reese’s absence, but said she will be available to play on Thursday against No. 9 Virginia Tech in a Final Four rematch — LSU is ranked seventh.
The only information Mulkey provided was that the absence stemmed from “locker room issues.”
It’s unknown at this point whether Reese will start or come off the bench.
The Tigers (7-1) won all the games Reese missed, most of them by wide margins, and have not lost since dropping their opener in Las Vegas to then-No. 20 Colorado, which has since risen to No. 3.
Reese missed games at Southeastern Louisiana and against Texas Southern in Baton Rouge before also not accompanying the team to the Cayman Islands for a holiday tournament. She did, however, recently post a photo on Instagram at LSU’s basketball arena.
Reese, nicknamed the “Bayou Barbie” and known for her eyelash extensions and pink finger nails, led LSU to its first national title in women’s basketball last season. She also has parlayed her popularity into name, image, and likeness endorsements valued at more than $1 million, making her one of the top-earning female college athletes.
The junior garnered criticism when she pointed to her ring finger and did the “you can’t see me” celebration in front of Iowa’s Caitlin Clark in the closing seconds of the national title game. Clark previously did the taunt and said she had no issues with what Reese did.
Reese started LSU’s first four games, averaging 17 points and 10.3 rebounds as the Tigers went 3-1.
Last season, she averaged 23 points and 15.4 rebounds — and set an NCAA record with 34 double-doubles in a season.