NCAA women’s Final Four: Angel Reese and Ashley Owusu’s paths have diverged since they left Maryland

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It’s the scenario Maryland women’s basketball fans might have feared: a Final Four matchup between two teams that a year ago signed the Terps’ top two scorers out of the transfer portal.

In flesh-and-blood reality, however, the Friday night showdown between LSU and Virginia Tech will present a more complex snapshot of how players’ quests for greener pastures can lead to disappointment as readily as splendor.


Angel Reese is living the best-case scenario for LSU, cranking out jaw-dropping stat lines and building a national fan following as the “Bayou Barbie.”

Ashley Owusu, meanwhile, does not play at all for Virginia Tech. She’s left to hint at her frustration on Twitter as she waits for another chance to show she can “still get buckets.”


Their former Maryland teammates will not join them in Dallas after losing to No. 1 seed South Carolina in the Elite Eight. But Terps coach Brenda Frese did not indicate any love lost when she compared her 2021-22 team led by Reese and Owusu to the 2022-23 team edition. “It was a locker room that was ‘me’ centered versus ‘we’ centered,” Frese said recently.

The transfer portal has irrevocably changed college basketball, causing a fresh cataclysm every spring as top players scope for grander opportunities and top programs radically reshape their rosters — sometimes by choice, sometimes out of necessity.

LSU's Angel Reese (10) celebrates a win over Utah in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament in Greenville, South Carolina, on March 24. Reese was Maryland’s leading scorer and rebounder last season but has vaulted into the stratosphere at LSU.

In past generations, players the caliber of Reese and Owusu would probably have finished their careers in College Park. Frese loved watching stars evolve through the inevitable peaks and valleys of a four-year career. She still does; see her experience with All-America guard Diamond Miller, who finished her Maryland career on Monday night and declared for the WNBA draft on Thursday. But coaches and athletes see little value in lamenting what’s lost. Players are now free to seek a bigger role or a happier environment without having to sit a year, and it’s difficult to argue against that.

The fierce joy we see radiating from Reese as she becomes the player she was forecast to be out of St. Frances lifts the entire sport. Would it have happened at Maryland? Difficult to say, but she did not think so. She felt too anchored to the post in Frese’s system.

“I wanted more for myself,” she told Just Women’s Sports in January. “I knew that I wanted to develop into that stretch-four [power forward] player, so being able to do that and play under a coach that could help me get to that level — because I know I’m not gonna play the five [center] at the next level.”

Reese was Maryland’s leading scorer and rebounder last season but has vaulted into the stratosphere at LSU, where she’s averaging 23.2 points, 15.7 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.6 blocks. She blew up “SportsCenter” in January when she lost her sneaker in a game against Arkansas and swatted away a shot with her right hand while holding the displaced footwear in her left. Her numbers in the NCAA Tournament — 34 points and 15 rebounds in LSU’s first-round win over Hawaii, 25 points, 24 rebounds and six blocks in a round-two blowout of Michigan — have bordered on science fiction.

It’s difficult to earn consensus acclaim as the nation’s top player when Aliyah Boston is patrolling the paint for South Carolina and Caitlin Clark is scoring and assisting from all angles for Iowa, but Reese has put herself in the conversation.

She has also racked up name, image and likeness deals — 17 in total, according to a recent SponsorUnited report. Only four other Division I athletes — none of whom play basketball — have more, and she has an estimated earning potential of $392,000, which ranks sixth among all Division I women’s basketball players, according to the report.


“The amount of money I can make in college is way more than the amount I can make in the WNBA,” Reese said on the ”Outta Pocket” podcast.

On social media, she has emphasized her outspokenness and sense of style to complement her on-court dominance. She took sharp aim at critics who questioned her sportsmanship after she stared down that Arkansas player whose shot she’d eradicated.

“I don’t fit the narrative and I’M OK WITH THAT,” Reese wrote on Twitter. “I’m from Baltimore where you hoop outside & talk trash. If it was a boy y’all wouldn’t be saying nun at all.”

Virginia Tech's Ashley Owusu (15) and USC Upstate's Cali Levine (12) compete for a loose ball Nov. 14 in Blacksburg, Virginia. Owusu, Maryland’s second-leading scorer last season, has not played for the Hokies during the postseason.

Owusu, Maryland’s second-leading scorer last season, hoped for a similar trajectory when she departed for Southwest Virginia to join coach Kenny Brooks’ rising power at Virginia Tech. The experience began well enough, with Owusu starting and averaging almost 12 points through the Hokies’ first six games, all victories. But she broke her pinkie finger in a Dec. 1 game against Nebraska and did not return until Jan. 19. She played 21 minutes in that first game back, then 15 in the next, then seven in the one after that.

The player who had been named the nation’s top shooting guard after her sophomore season at Maryland did not score a single point in the six games she played in February. Owusu did not play at all in the ACC Tournament and has remained on the bench throughout No. 1 seed Virginia Tech’s run to the Final Four.

“I’m good to go,” Owusu told a reporter from The Next, who approached to ask if she was injured during the ACC Tournament. She has simply disappeared from Brooks’ rotation, with the coach praising her work ethic but saying the timing of her injury deprived her of a chance to blend fully into a team that took off without her. She told The Next that she doesn’t plan to use her fifth year of eligibility and will instead turn pro.


“Freee meee,” Owusu tweeted in February, accompanying a video clip of her driving the length of the court and dishing an exquisite assist for Maryland.

To be clear, she has not expressed any regrets about leaving College Park — she said she transferred because of “events that have transpired on and off the court” — or any hints of bitterness at the successes of her former teammates. You don’t have to scroll for long to find her tweets and retweets celebrating the accomplishments of Reese and Miller.

If she had not broken her finger, we might be talking up her reunion or showdown with her pal, the “Bayou Barbie.” Instead, Reese will be the star of the show when LSU and Virginia Tech take the court Friday evening while Owusu will likely remain offstage.

NCAA women’s Final Four

Friday at American Airlines Center in Dallas

No. 1 Virginia Tech vs. No. 3 LSU, 7 p.m.


No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 2 Iowa, 9:30 p.m.