Angel Reese is the No. 2 recruit in ESPN’s 2020 HoopGurlz recruiting rankings, one of the most widely recognized rankings in women’s basketball, and has signed her letter of intent to play for Maryland.
While that should say enough about her talent and skills, one opposing high school coach asked a national women’s basketball account to focus on other girls instead and attacked the 17-year-old Reese for being “genetically blessed” with “zero humility.” The coach has reportedly since lost her job, as reported by Jerry Bembry at The Undefeated.
Reese ranks No. 2 in 2020 class
The Saint Frances Academy (Baltimore) senior wing has a scout’s grade of 98 with notes, via ESPN, on her “dominant interior attack complemented by emerging face-up game to the arc,” her ability to exploit mismatches, her skill and footwork and a “feathery touch [that] yields consistent results.”
Her 6-foot-3 frame certainly helps, just as genetics are a factor for every athlete in some way. But you don’t get to the top without more. She’s the highest-ranked recruit in program history, per the Terps. Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said on the day Reese signed, via the Terps:
"Angel is a dynamic player that can score in a variety of ways. She can utilize her length and athleticism in so many ways. She is extremely versatile and will be able to score, defend and rebound for us. She should have an immediate impact from day one for us and will be a definite crowd pleaser."
Saint Frances has won three state championships and two conference titles under Reese’s leadership. Her high school coach, Jerome Shelton, told ESPN in June 2019:
"She's a Type A personality," Shelton said. "She's not interested in resting on her laurels. She wants to max out her ability. She wants to be better than everybody else."
Opposing HS coach calls out top player’s ‘humility’
Lisa Smith is the girls basketball coach at Archbishop Spalding High School, which plays in the same conference as Saint Frances. The two teams played just last week, a 60-53 win by Saint Frances on Jan. 6 though Reese didn’t play, per The Undefeated.
A few days later, Reese and Saint Frances defeated South Shore High School (Brooklyn) at the 695 Hoops Public vs. Private Challenge. Overtime women’s basketball shared clips from the game featuring Reese and South Shore’s Kateri Poole, ranked 20th overall and sixth in the 2020 point guard class.
Smith took issue with this and direct messaged the account. Chloe Pavlech, the account’s curator, shared it on her personal Instagram page as well as another direct message from December she discovered. Via The Undefeated:
“Celebrating a player (w god given height and talent) and zero humility or impulse control. As a female coach of female high school ballers, I find this behavior repulsive, unacceptable, unflattering and unnecessary. You can have swag while not acting like a punk. Highlight some other girls in the conference who aren’t as genetically gifted …”
“She’s not the greatest player that’s ever come out of this area. She’s genetically blessed. And lacks any humility. Guess you haven’t watched the film of her…”
Smith was referencing a fight Reese was in during a scrimmage last season. She was suspended for three games, per The Undefeated, and was one strike away this season from having to sit out the year, her mom said.
Her mother, also named Angel Reese, said Smith’s school told her the coach had been fired. Smith did send her apologies that they were “privy to my message,” saying she didn’t mean to “hurt or offend anyone when I sent the DM (privately) and foolishly never imagined that anyone other the [sic] curator would read them. But this is a painful lesson that there are, in fact, real people behind the IG name/account.”
Coaches should be held to higher standard
This was not some internet troll out to tear down others. This was a high school coach who goes up against the star on an annual basis. She not only believed these things, she took it upon herself to send a direct message to an account promoting two great talents in an attempt to discredit one of them.
Pavlech told The Undefeated she shared the posts out of shock that any adult, but especially a coach, would say a thing like that.
“Adults should be building children up, not tearing them down,” she said, “and women should’t tear down other women, especially young girls. That’s the last thing we want to teach our kids.”
The player’s mom said in a post to Smith she felt “as a coach of young women,” Smith should be held to a higher standard. She told The Undefeated it made her concerned about what Smith was telling her players and what might come of that.
“I felt like she was slandering my daughter’s name, and by using words like ‘genetically and God-given talent,’ I feel like there were racial overtones in what she said.”
Reese skipped an invitation to try out for the USA Basketball U19 last summer so that she could spend one last summer with her AAU team, Team Takeover. Her coach, Ron James, told ESPN the decision showed her loyalty and the principle of sacrificing for the good of the team.
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