After trying out for the U.S. under-16 national team last year, St. Frances’ Angel Reese felt much more confident in her ability to compete for a spot on the U17 team this summer.
The 6-foot-3 rising junior, who already has offers from over some of women’s college basketball’s top programs, was one of 18 finalists for the team that will compete at the FIBA U17 World Cup this month. But she just missed out on making the 12-player roster in late May. Coming that close, she said, made her even more confident and determined that she can return to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs next summer and make the U18 team.
“It kind of, like, makes you mad that you work so hard and get that close. Next year, I’m going after it and I’ll make sure I’m on the team,” said Reese, who was one of 34 players invited to the tryouts.
While Reese has twice been an All-Metro first-team selection for her dominance in the post, averaging 17.6 points and 12.1 rebounds per game last winter, she’s a small forward for Team Takeover, her Amateur Athletic Union team, and she tried out as a wing for the U.S. team.
Extremely athletic and agile, Reese can handle the ball and averaged 3.1 assists as a sophomore for the No. 1 Panthers, the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference champions. She’s always a threat off the drive, and her perimeter shot is steadily improving.
Although college coaches cannot contact her directly until Sept. 1, Reese said she already has over two dozen Division I offers, including from perennial powers Maryland, South Carolina and Louisville. She doesn’t want to name any top schools yet, but she said she plans to whittle down her list after her busy AAU season ends in late July.
“I’ll be cutting my list down after I come back from everything, so the first week in August, I’ll have my list ready, but I do have a mental list,” she said recently. “When I think about a few that I would like to go to, I’m looking at Power Five [conference] schools, so I think there are probably about 16 schools that I’m looking at.”
She wants to make her commitment in September of her senior year and sign in November 2019.
Reese has been on the national radar for some time and continues to boost her stock at every turn. After the high school season, she earned Most Valuable Player honors for the U.S. Future Stars at the Capital Classic as she led the team of top underclassmen to a 115-80 victory over the Capital All-Stars, who were all local seniors. She had 22 points and 19 rebounds.
With Reese playing well, Team Takeover finished fourth at the Nike Nationals this week in Chicago. Two weeks ago, she was in Las Vegas for the Blue Star 30 camp, a showcase for some of the nation’s top underclassmen.
Her experiences trying out for the U.S. national teams have helped her focus on what she needs to improve. Competing for the three extra days this year, after the team was cut to 18 finalists, gave her more time to face the other top contenders.
“Even if you don’t make the team, it’s kind of seeing where you are compared to the other top players. I definitely think I showed who I was and represented from the Baltimore and Maryland area,” Reese said.
After she missed the final cut, Reese learned that although she was more confident with her shot this year and took more shots, the U.S. coaches wanted her to shoot even more, so she’ll work on that for next year. Overall, however, she took it as a learning experience, as she has plenty of time left to play at the national level.
“I learned that I was one of the top players there,” Reese said. “I went through a little adversity at the end. It was kind of like some players who made it last year really didn’t have to go as hard, which is kind of odd but made me want to push harder. Even though you might be good, you really have to work until the very end. I went after all of the players that made the team last year, which I did really well against. That was kind of like what set me apart from others.”