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St. Frances grad Angel Reese at ease taking leading role as freshman for Maryland women’s basketball team

For Maryland freshman guard Angel Reese, the play has long been routine and a source of hundreds of baskets.

The 6-foot-3 standout gets the ball at the high post, measures her defender and then glides to the basket. During her sensational four-year high school career at St. Frances, it produced two points for the Panthers time and time again.

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Last Friday, Reese’s norm was different, however. Same play. Same result. But this time downright special.

It marked the first points of Reese’s college career for the Terps, the start of an impressive 20-point, nine-rebound debut in the team’s 94-72 season opening win over Davidson at the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Florida.

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In No. 14 Maryland’s 2-1 start, Reese averaged 17 points and 8.7 rebounds with six blocked shots to earn co-Freshman of the Week honors in the Big Ten Conference.

As one of the country’s most prized freshman — Reese was ESPN’s No. 2 rated prospect in the 2020 class and Maryland’s highest-ranked incoming player in program history — the beginning of her career was simply Reese being Reese.

“Many people think I’m pressured because I am one of the highest-ranked players to come play for Maryland, but I didn’t feel any pressure. I felt free to play, it was like any other game because I had my teammates to have my back,” she said.

“I am a freshman, so of course I’m going to have some freshman jitters. But it just felt good to be out there with them for the first time. I let my defense and rebounding — stuff that I’ve always used — come to me first and then let my offensive game come to me after. So I think it was pretty easy for me and I had a lot of fun.”

Reese’s gifted skills, competitiveness and athleticism have long been on display going all the way back to her freshman year at St. Frances. She led the Panthers to four straight Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championships and her accolades piled up in her senior year when she was named a McDonald’s All American, The Baltimore Sun’s All-Metro Player of the Year for a second straight season and its 2019-20 High School Female Athlete of the Year.

Despite the well-established resume, Reese still has managed to surprise Maryland coach Brenda Frese, who comfortably proclaimed: “Angel Reese is as good as advertised, if not better.”

The Terps’ 18-year coach added: “Obviously, I knew how talented she was — it’s all the other intangibles for me with her. Most freshman they come in and they have to figure it out as they’re kind of learning. Angel has come in and has really adapted to being a strong leader for us right out of the gate. … You don’t see many freshman come in and raise the level of play through their competitiveness and their confidence.”

During a preseason practice, a natural reaction from Reese showed Frese what kind of intuitive player she has to work with. Recovered from a knee injury, freshman guard Zoe Young executed perfectly in her first shooting drill and Reese showed how genuinely excited she was for her teammate.

“You expect that out of your veteran leaders, to understand that Zoe would be nervous in that shooting drill. To see Angel take that upon herself, she’s just got a phenomenal awareness of the pulse of our team which is really incredible to see at such a young age,” Frese said.

Over the years — successfully handling all the high expectations and pressure of leading her teams to success — that leadership quality is ingrained in Reese.

“I’ve always been a vocal person, so if I bring my energy every day I know that my teammates are getting better and I’m pushing them every day,” she said. “Even if I don’t have the best game or play that much, I know I bring the energy off the bench. … A lot of people will see me on the bench yelling and cheering for my teammates — that’s something I really like to do, to just get my teammates better.”

On Thursday, Reese has another college first to be excited about when she plays in her first home game as the Terps take on Towson at Xfinity Center at 6 p.m.

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“I can’t wait to play here,” she said. “I know we can’t play in front of any fans yet, but I know I’ll have family at home and fans at home that will be watching. It will just be great playing with my teammates and I know girls on Towson, too, so it will be exciting.”

Home opener

TOWSON@NO. 14 MARYLAND

Thursday, 6 p.m.

TV: Big Ten Network

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