St. Frances Star, Terps Commit Angel Reese Says Maryland ‘Really Great Fit’

Press Angel Reese about what she likes to do away from basketball, school, modeling and planning for a future career in broadcast journalism, and she is succinct.

“I like to sleep,” she said.

No wonder. Reese has been awful busy during her 17 years on the planet. She’s the consensus No. 2 women’s basketball recruit in the country for 2020, and the Baltimore product recently announced she’ll head to the University of Maryland to help the Terrapins in their quest for another national championship.

“I really can’t wait, just having me and Shakira [Austin] being able to do that high-low and getting that rebound and being able to push the ball,” Reese said. “I can’t wait. Pushing the ball and being able to play my position. It’s just a really great fit for me.”

When she’s not sleeping, obviously, Reese is pushing.

So far, that plan has resulted in the St. Frances Academy senior earning USA Today Maryland Player of the Year and Baltimore Sun All-Metro honors, the Capital Classic MVP, an AAU national title with Team Takeover and three Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championships. She even fit in time for two high school volleyball titles.

The 6-foot-3 guard-forward likes winning, and that was another key ingredient in her choice to stay close to home.

“I believe we can win a national championship with the players [Maryland] has,” she said.

The Terrapins last hoisted the national championship trophy in 2006, but they’re ranked No. 4 nationally as the 2019-20 season tips off. Reese knows four seniors will graduate, including Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year Kaila Charles, one of the first Terps she ever met. Reese has been a frequent fan in the stands at Maryland home games, but she wanted to do her due diligence in making a final college decision. Reese eventually narrowed her list to five schools — Maryland, South Carolina, Syracuse, USC and Tennessee.

“I wanted to get a feel for the other schools because I wasn’t sure I was going to Maryland,” she said. “I didn’t know if I was going to stay home, and I wanted to open up my recruiting and see other places and other programs and what they could offer.”

But the dream school for the heavy sleeper was always likely Maryland. Reese remembered seeing Brenda Frese in her gym back in eighth grade, and she continued to see the Terrapin coach at her games throughout the years.

“Brenda was always there; she didn’t put [my recruitment] in the hands of the assistant coaches,” Reese recalled. “Some programs did that. It’s Coach Frese that would be making the call, so having her at courtside and having the majority of my conversations with her meant a lot.”

Frese, who has long been one of the top recruiters in the women’s game, can’t comment publicly on a verbal commitment, at least not until Reese puts pen to paper on her National Letter of Intent Nov. 13. Reese made that intent clear Nov. 1 at the Midnight Madness event at St. Frances, taking a microphone and announcing her decision as she pulled a Maryland state flag out of her back pocket and waved it to cheers from the crowd.

“I think there are five girls from the DMV on the team already,” she pointed out. “I’m cool with them, already good friends with some of them. Plus my family could see me play, always come to my games. My grandparents are big part of my life and they can still see me, and that was important.”

Reese and her 6-foot-8 brother, Julian, a freshman at St. Frances, have been raised by their mother, also named Angel Reese, and her parents, Barbara and Curtis Webb. The original Angel Reese played at UMBC and overseas in Luxembourg.

“My mom and my grandmom, that’s who I do everything for,” Reese said. “My grandmom has always been a big part of my life. Whenever I got in trouble, she was the one to pick me up and tell me that everything would be OK. My grandparents have really been a factor in my life in a way most people don’t understand. They’re getting older, but now they can still come see me play about 40 minutes from home.”

The elder Angel Reese gets a big assist, too, in producing Angel Reese.

“My mom, she’s a single mom so she really influenced me to be so independent,” the younger Reese said. “She takes care of me and my brother and she really guided me and made me ready for college and to be on my own.”

Mom agreed, mostly.

“Angel was born with that, I think,” the elder Reese said. “She has always been so responsible. She always helps around the house and has always looked after her younger brother. I could leave for a week and come back and Angel would have taken care of everything.”

Not that Mom ever does that, mind you. The Reeses are close-knit and will bring a big, loud rooting section to Xfinity Center next season to see Angel soar. Reese will join other locals on the team next year. Shakira Austin is a Fredericksburg, Va., native who played at Riverdale Baptist. Tennessee transfer Mimi Collins is from Waldorf, Md. Ashley Owusu is a Woodbridge, Va., and Paul VI High product.

Mature for her age, Reese is still relieved to have her choice of college behind her, ready to settle in and make St. Frances great once again this basketball season with no distractions. She’s a good student, particularly in English, and after flirting with the idea of a long-term career owning her own physical therapy business, she decided broadcast journalism was a better fit. It is: The camera loves her, and she’s already a polished speaker beyond her years. Maryland’s strong academics and the Phillip Merrill College of Journalism were another key part of her decision.

On the court, Reese is a long, lithe athletic presence, capable inside around the basket but also able to pass and score from the perimeter, though her jump shot is the one part of her game that still needs polishing. She worked on it all summer and may have surprises in store for defenders who slough off her this season.

College coaches drooled over her all-around game and her ability to play and — the real trait that separates her — defend all five positions on the floor. That’s right — when Reese is not sleeping, she’s a nightmare for opposing teams.

Here’s the secret: Reese played point guard when she began basketball, not hitting a big growth spurt until middle school, and then another spurt at about her freshman year. She also didn’t come up just playing basketball. Her mother had her try other things like track, swimming and even ballet.

She grew out of ballet, but her athleticism has a distinctive grace and beauty to it, and that ability helped her plié right into the national spotlight in basketball. Reese took her time, took a look around and decided everything she wanted on that stage was right in her backyard. No surprise. When Reese talks about the parts of the game she loves the most, it’s all about winning and meshing with teammates for the greater good.

“The best part of my game is passing the ball,” she said. “I have more fun when I’m passing. My AAU coach Ron [James] called me Dr. Dimes.”

And Reese is so loyal to her teammates, she eschewed the chance to play with the Team USA U19 squad this summer to win that national title with Team Takeover. She has no regrets — a title with longtime friends was a major goal — but she vows she’ll be there the next time the national team wants her. She wants a title on that stage, too.

“Hopefully I’m invited back,” she said. If she’s not, there’s probably foreign interference in the polling.

Reese was a rec-league sensation early on, playing in the same Baltimore County league as her mother, whose basketball background allowed her to recognize how special her daughter was on the hardwoods quickly.

“It was probably the fourth grade when I noticed. It was her tenacity and her skill set for someone her age and size,” the elder Reese said.

Then the younger Reese’s game and her long body continued to grow. Now her game has awakened, and she’s primed for a huge senior season at St. Frances. Then, well, let’s just say Maryland’s foes better not to go to sleep on her next year.

This story was updated to correct the location of Reese’s announcement.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of St. Frances Academy

Mike Ashley

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