After injury sapped her confidence, St. Frances grad Angel Reese is back to her usual self for Maryland women’s basketball

The first major injury of her career sapped Maryland forward Angel Reese of her confidence, but the sophomore has quickly regained it this season.

Angel Reese is so well-versed with interviews that little rattles her. Even a question about the dreaded “sophomore slump” doesn’t perturb the second-year forward for the Maryland women’s basketball program.

“I’ve never really thought about a sophomore slump,” she said with a laugh. “Maybe next year.”


There is some credence to that thought. Reese, a Baltimore resident and St. Frances graduate, played in only 15 of 29 games last winter because of a fractured right foot. Having played in all 16 games this season for the No. 8 Terps (12-4, 4-1 Big Ten), Reese feels she is just turning the corner on what would have been a full complement of games as a freshman.

“This year feels like my freshman year again,” she said. “I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I didn’t get to show much.”


Reese, whose brother, Julian, is a freshman for the Terps’ men’s basketball team, is reminding observers why she was the No. 2 overall recruit in the country coming out of high school. Entering Sunday’s home game against No. 11 Michigan (13-2, 4-1), the 6-foot-3 post player is tied for fourth at the NCAA Division I level in double-doubles with 10, 20th in rebounds per game at 10.8 and ranks 48th in points per game at 18.2.

On Jan. 5, Reese was named to the 2022 John R. Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 Watch List, and ESPN recently named Reese the 12th-best player in the country in its Top 25 rankings — two spots behind teammate and junior point guard Ashley Owusu.

On a team with Owusu (16.3 points and 4.3 assists per game), graduate student shooting guard Katie Benzan (12.3 points and 4.1 assists per game), graduate student center Chloe Bibby (11.4 points and 5.6 rebounds per game) and junior shooting guard Diamond Miller (11.3 points and 3.0 assists per game), Reese is another piece to the puzzle, according to coach Brenda Frese.

“She gives us a presence when she steps onto the court on both ends of the floor,” she said. “We play through her. The other thing is, she’s a really unselfish teammate. She loves to win so much that if she’s double-teamed, she loves to make the great assist. She allows us to play through her inside and out, which makes it better for everybody else around her.”

Reese started in Maryland’s first four games last season, averaging 17.0 points and 8.7 rebounds in her first three starts. But in the first quarter of an eventual romp over Towson in early December, she broke her right foot — the first serious injury of her career.

Despite returning before a projected 12-week recovery period, Reese admitted that she lacked the confidence in herself that she had before the injury.

“For anybody who has had an injury, you doubt yourself,” she said. “You try to not think about that stuff, but it’s natural as a human being to think, ‘Will I ever be the same?’ You look at others, and you just think, ‘Why me? Why did I have to go through this? How come no one else did?’ But then I got to thinking, ‘The only one that can stop me is myself. I can’t control what others do. I can only control what I do.’ I just knew that if I worked hard in rehab and did everything I could do, I could get back to where I was before.”

Maryland sophomore forward Angel Reese was named to the 2022 John R. Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 Watch List, and ESPN recently named Reese the 12th-best player in the country in its Top 25 rankings — two spots behind teammate and junior point guard Ashley Owusu.

Reese said she began to feel more comfortable on her foot in May when she tried out for and made the USA Basketball U19 World Cup Team and helped the Terps’ 3x3 team finish second at the 2021 Red Bull USA Basketball 3X Nationals in June.


“Just being able to do what I was doing before, I was like,’ OK, wow, I’m back,’” she said. “I lost confidence last year, thinking, ‘Am I ever going to be that same player that I was before?’ Just being able to play against that top competition really got my confidence back.”

Reese also credited her mother, also named Angel, for helping her.

“My mom always put a lot of confidence in me, helping me to get back to where I was,” she said. “Of course, she’s still hard on me. She tells me, ‘You’re still not playing your best basketball yet. I’ve seen you play better, and I know you have more than you think.’ … My mom is a big inspiration.”

Reese remains a significant threat to opponents. After she scored a team-high 18 points — including six of Maryland’s last eight points in the final four minutes — and added six rebounds and two assists in a 73-59 victory at Rutgers on Dec. 5, Scarlet Knights acting coach Tim Eatman singled out her performance.


“We felt like we needed to square Angel up and not force her left or force her right because she’s so quick on her first step,” he said during his postgame news conference. “We never got to square up on her. She caught the ball in the high post, and we never got to 10 toes facing halfcourt where we were squaring her up to make her make a play outside of her comfort zone. We gave her the lane too much. But a credit to Angel that the willingness to want to score when the game was on the line. That’s a great player.”

Reese is pleased with her stats but said she is concentrating on helping the Terps advance further than last year’s Sweet 16 exit from the NCAA tournament after a 64-61 setback to Texas.

“I’m not satisfied,” she said. “Last year, I wish I was able to contribute these numbers when we played against Texas, but I wasn’t able to. But just moving forward, I’m happy with what I’m doing, but it’s about the team right now. We have bigger goals. Of course, I want us to win as much as we can so that we can go deep into March.”

Frese said Reese reminds her of former shooting guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, who was selected by the Washington Mystics with the sixth overall pick of the 2017 WNBA draft.

“She has that edginess and that ultra-competitive personality of like, ‘If you tell me I can’t do something, I’m going to do it,’” Frese said. “I think they have similar personalities that way.”

Reese said the return of Miller from a lingering knee injury should lessen some of the scoring burden on her. But until then, she will be known as “Double-Double” to her teammates, which is fine — with one caveat.


“I don’t like it when they call me ‘Double-Double’ when we lose,” she said, “but I like it when we win.”


Sunday, 5 p.m.