Angel Reese Is Taking Her Talents to the WNBA


“Of course, I like to do everything big,” LSU basketball star Angel Reese tells me. It’s mid-March, a week before the start of the NCAA tournament, and the 21-year-old has just shared her plans to enter the WNBA draft with Vogue. She could have dialed up a sports outlet or simply mentioned her decision in a press conference, but “I didn’t want anything to be basic,” she says, speaking via Zoom from her off-campus apartment in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Reese says she was inspired by Serena Williams to break the news with a fashion shoot. 

(The tennis legend, of course, announced her retirement in the September issue of Vogue in 2022.) “I’ve done everything I wanted to in college,” Reese says: “I’ve won a national championship, I’ve gotten [Southeastern Conference] Player of the Year, I’ve been an All-American. My ultimate goal is to be a pro—and to be one of the greatest basketball players to play, ever. I feel like I'm ready.”

Zankov dress Christian Louboutin shoes Jennifer Fisher earring ear cuff and ring.

Zankov dress; Christian Louboutin shoes; Jennifer Fisher earring, ear cuff, and ring.

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Reese’s final game with LSU on Monday night, which saw the Tigers fall to Iowa in the Elite Eight round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament, capped off an extraordinary college run. To summarize: After two seasons at the University of Maryland—with Reese sidelined for months during the first year with a foot injury—she transferred to LSU to play under legendary coach Kim Mulkey, and a whirlwind junior year ensued. Adoring fans nicknamed Reese the Bayou Barbie—a wink to her signature long lashes, cascading hairstyles, bold manicures, and unapologetic love of fashion. The 6’3” forward quickly became one of the highest-earning student athletes of the NIL era, inking deals with Amazon, Beats by Dre, Goldman Sachs, and more—and her dominance on the court led LSU to the 2023 national championship, where they won the first NCAA basketball title in school history, with Reese named the tournament's most outstanding player. A trash-talking gesture in the championship game, meanwhile—watched by a record-breaking 9.9 million viewers—propelled her to viral fame.

Wales Bonner top and shorts Jenny Bird ear cuff Reeses own diamond studs.

Wales Bonner top and shorts, Jenny Bird ear cuff, Reese’s own diamond studs.

“You don't really realize it in the moment,” Reese says about all the attention on her during the matchup, “but obviously the things you say and do can change everything. I literally woke up the next day and I was a celebrity.” In short order, Reese attended the ESPY Awards, taking home the trophy for breakthrough athlete; she graced the pages of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue; she gifted herself a Benz for her 21st birthday and jetted off to Jamaica for vacation; she made a cameo in Cardi B and Latto’s “Put It on Da Floor Again” video; I profiled her for Teen Vogue.

None of this was enjoyed without criticism. We’re still in the early days of the brave new world in which college athletes can be compensated for the use of their name, image, and likeness, and plenty of talking heads have argued that these NIL deals, along with the commitments and visibility that come with them, are distractions—that student athletes can’t compete to the best of their ability while walking red carpets and creating sponsored social media posts. Some saw LSU’s season-opening loss to Colorado as proof of all of this—but, true to form, Reese was unbothered. “I wrote down: ‘People are going to doubt me thinking I got too Hollywood, I got too big-headed,’” she tells me. “But I said I was going to be SEC Player of the Year, and I was SEC Player of the Year.” Reese ends her college career having set numerous records, including the NCAA single-season record in double-doubles.

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Valentino dress, Jennifer Fisher earrings, Completed Works ring.

“To sum it up, it’s been crazy,” she says of her time at LSU. A self-described “girly girl” who also calls herself “a killer on the court,” she relishes the opportunity to be herself. “I didn’t have to be in a box,” she says. A fan of crop tops and mini skirts, Reese’s youthful, splashy outfits are punctuated with designer accessories: Chanel bags, Rick Owens sneakers, Prada beanies, etc. While Mulkey—who herself is known for her high-wattage personal style—encouraged Reese to embrace her individuality, at the same time, Reese says, the coach pushed her. “She gets on me hard, and that’s something I need. We have that kind of relationship where we can bump heads but also be on the same page: We just want to win.”

With another year of college eligibility left, her decision to go pro, Reese says, was not made lightly—especially considering all that she’s leaving behind. She may never experience a fan base like the one she has in Baton Rouge, she tells Vogue; the resources in most WNBA organizations, from the staff down to the locker room facilities, pale in comparison to those at LSU; and flying private, as she has rather frequently over the past few years, will no longer be the norm. Reese, though, is okay with all of that. “I want to start at the bottom again,” she says. “I want to be a rookie again and build myself back up; I want to be knocked down and learn and grow at the next level.”

Reese is also keenly aware of how competitive that next level is. There are just 144 spots across 12 teams in the WNBA, with only 36 new athletes drafted into the league each season. If Reese is among those picks during the draft on April 15, as she’s predicted to be, “I’ll be working with grown women,” she says. “I’ll be working with women that have kids, women that have a family to feed. I’m going to have to work my butt off every single day and grind. And who wouldn’t want that? I don’t want anything in my life to be easy.”

Diesel top and pants, Reebok shoes, Ferragamo earrings, Swarovski ring.

Angel Reese sits on wooden bleachers with a basketball on her knee.
Photographed by Myles Loftin. Styled by Naomi Elizée.

In this story: hair, Hannah Grimes; makeup, Jordyn Celestin.

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