BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — With LSU star forward Angel Reese missing in action and little explanation forthcoming from coach Kim Mulkey, the seventh-ranked Tigers are attracting unwanted scrutiny at the outset of their national title defense.
Recent drama involving not just Reese’s absence, but critical comments by some players’ parents on social media, began not long after a surprising season-opening loss for what on paper looks like the quintessential super team in this new era of relaxed rules governing transfers and player endorsement earnings.
On Monday, there was no indication that Reese would be back with the team for a home game against Texas Southern.
LSU women’s basketball program spokesman Grant Kauvar said he couldn’t predict how soon Reese might return, adding that people would just have to “come to the game and see.” That echoed Mulkey’s comments before last Friday’s game at Southeastern Louisiana, which Reese missed.
Mulkey’s reticence regarding Reese — one of the most popular and commercially successful athletes in all of women’s college sports — has presented a public relations challenge for LSU and opened perhaps more room for speculation than LSU might have liked. Yet, from what little Mulkey has divulged — calling Reese’s second-half benching against Kent State last Tuesday a “coach’s decision” — it would not appear to be a compliance issue.
During a back-and-forth on the social media website Instagram, the mother of sophomore guard Flau’Jae Johnson, Kia Brooks, made a comment about Reese’s academic performance.
Reese’s mother, Angel Webb Reese, had criticized Brooks’ grammar in an earlier post, to which Brooks responded, “You definitely know about grammar errors when your daughter got a 2.0-or-less grade point average. … Stop being petty, fake and hateful, and take responsibility for you and your daughter’s actions.”
Brooks’ specific refence to Reese’s grade-point average has not been corroborated. Universities do not release transcripts without permission from the student in question and Mulkey has declined to comment on the parents’ posts.