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St. Frances star, Maryland recruit Angel Reese builds a legacy with a love of basketball

Fans react with St. Frances forward Angel Reese following her basket against St. Vincent Pallotti on Jan. 24, 2020.
Fans react with St. Frances forward Angel Reese following her basket against St. Vincent Pallotti on Jan. 24, 2020. (Karl Merton Ferron/The Baltimore Sun)

St. Frances girls basketball star Angel Reese has consistently been the focus of national recruiting outlets, earning ESPN’s No. 2 ranking in the Class of 2020.

On Jan. 31, Reese became the first girls player in St. Frances history to have her number retired. With her No. 10 immortalized, Reese will head to Maryland in the fall to play for coach Brenda Frese, becoming the highest-ranked Terps recruit in program history.

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“It means a lot,” Reese, a Randallstown resident, said of the jersey retirement. “Especially since my freshman year, I’ve grown so much here in Baltimore. I’m not from the Baltimore City area, and kind of going through a lot of the adversity that I’m not used to. This is a smaller school — only about, like, 300 people in the school. So [St. Frances] is like a family.

“[WNBA star] Angel McCoughtry came out of St. Frances — a lot of great players came out of here. I wanted to be one of the next big players to come out of St. Frances and I was looking to a lot of people through my freshman year — Mia Davis, Nia Clouden. It’s a lot of good girls that have come out of St. Frances. I seem to be the one that’s next up to leave my legacy.”

With the building blocks of a strong freshman season, Reese forged a memorable career. Her coming-out party came during a nationally televised game in which she scored 20 points and grabbed 24 rebounds.

The accolades began to roll in for Reese early. She was named to The Baltimore Sun’s All-Metro team each of the past three seasons and earned Player of the Year honors in 2018-19. In addition, Reese was named a USA Today first-team All-American and earned a spot on the McDonald’s All-American team this year, the first of each such honor in program history. Her Amateur Athletic Union squad, Team Takeover, won the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League national title last year, with Reese adding 18 points and 11 rebounds in the championship game.

Reese has had several role models throughout her basketball career, but her first one was her mother, Angel S. Reese. Angel S. Reese is a former UMBC basketball player and part of the school’s Hall of Fame. Her love of basketball has trickled down to her daughter and son, Julian, who plays for St. Frances’ boys team.

“Everyone in my family plays basketball,” Reese said. “My brother is 6 feet 9. We all had no choice because we were tall and it was an easy way to get to college. I found this love for basketball, and it was amazing that I can show my talent on and off of the court. It’s opened so many doors for me, especially friends. I know that I wouldn’t have met as many people as I have without basketball.”

St. Frances honors girls basketball seniors Khalia Turner (middle left) and Angel Reese (middle right) during Senior Night on January 31, 2020.
St. Frances honors girls basketball seniors Khalia Turner (middle left) and Angel Reese (middle right) during Senior Night on January 31, 2020. (Kyle J. Andrews)

Angel S. Reese is excited to see her daughter take on her dreams of competing at the highest level.

“I’m very excited, very proud, and I think that she has represented the school well on and off of the court,” her mother said. “The four years have flown by, and it’s kind of bittersweet. I’m a little sad, but I’m happy to see her move onto her next journey and I’m very proud. I’m just so happy and blessed that she chose St. Frances. I think that was a great decision for her, and I’m excited for her next journey as a Lady Terp.

“She’s a lot more skilled than I was at this age. So it’s just exciting to see that all of her hard work has paid off and everything. It’s nice to see your kids follow something that you enjoyed at one time.”

Angel S. Reese also came to her daughter’s defense in January, when ESPN’s The Undefeated reported that Archbishop Spalding coach Lisa Smith wrote an Instagram direct message to the Overtime women’s basketball page that Reese was “genetically blessed” and that Reese’s behavior is “repulsive, unacceptable, unflattering and unnecessary.” Smith was fired a day after the report.

“The comments were inappropriate and, as a coach, I hold her to higher standards,” Reese’s mother told The Undefeated. “I felt like she was slandering my daughter’s name, and by using words like ‘genetically and God-given talent,’ I feel like there were racial overtones in what she said.

“If I hear something like that from another parent or player, that would have been fine because games are intense. I’m not comfortable with a coach saying that because I have no idea what she’s told her players, and what her players might do to my daughter.”

St. Frances (19-3, 10-1 Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland) is the top seed for this week’s IAAM tournament. Reese’s teammates and coaches hope she can cap her legacy with an IAAM A Conference championship.

“I’m really happy for her and excited for our program that we could have a player of her stature here and accomplish these things,” St. Frances coach James Shelton said. “I think that we need to stay focused and finish the regular season strong. Certainly, we want the No. 1 seed, and going into the third season — that’s the playoffs — every game is important.

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“We’re starting over, and you have to have that vision if you want to get to the championship. One game can knock you out, and your season is over. So we want to get through the regular season first. We’ll adjust our sights on the playoffs when they get here. Obviously, we just want to keep playing good basketball so that we can hold on to that first seed.”

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