LSU star Angel Reese will make her much-anticipated return to the court Thursday when the Tigers host No. 9 Virginia Tech, LSU coach Kim Mulkey announced Wednesday. The junior forward missed the Tigers' last four games because of unspecified "locker-room issues."
Neither Reese nor junior guard Kateri Poole made the trip to the Cayman Islands Classic this past weekend, adding to the mystery of what happened in the locker room.
"It doesn't matter. Angel is back and we are happy, happy, happy." Mulkey said. "... We're past it. We were past it after it happened. It's just fun to watch them high-five and pick each other up off the floor and just do what they do, play basketball.
"It's just we have to come in here and answer questions and that becomes aggravating."
Poole, Mulkey said, is still not back with the team as of Wednesday.
LSU won its first national title last season and entered 2023-24 as the No. 1 team in the AP Top 25 poll. On paper, the Tigers seemed even stronger this season as they brought back Reese while adding the top recruiting class of 2023 and former Louisville star Hailey Van Lith.
However,, and it turns out she was right to not assume everything would go smoothly.
Here is a timeline of everything that has happened with Reese in 2023-24:
Nov. 24-25: Reese doesn't make trip to Cayman Islands Classic
LSU dominated Niagara 99-65 on Nov. 24 and claimed a 76-73 victory over Virginia the next day. However,. Once again there was no explanation from LSU, Mulkey, or any of the players.
"You will know when she comes back," Mulkey said of Reese's absence. "Obviously she's not with us."
As for Poole's situation, Mulkey said she would provide an update when the team returned to Louisiana.
Nov. 20: Mulkey addresses "locker room issues" as Reese misses second game
LSU claimed 106-47 win over Texas Southern,. Mulkey said her answer to questions regarding Reese's absence would be the same answer she gave after the Southern Louisiana game.
The coach added that she wanted to deal with the situation in a private way, the same way she would with a family issue.
"You always have to deal with locker room issues. That's just part of coaching," Mulkey said. "In 40 years I can't ever think of a time where I didn't have to deal with issues. that's what you do. Sometimes y'all know about it and sometimes you don't. Sometimes you want to know more than you're entitled to know.
"I'm going to protect my players, always. It's like a family. If you do some disciplining of your own children, do you think we're entitled to know that? That's a family in that locker room."
Mulkey was also asked if Reese would make the trip to the Cayman Islands Classic later in the week, but the coach said even if she had already made that decision, she was not going to speak about it publicly.
"Sometimes you want to know more than you're entitled to know. I'm going to protect my players. Always."@LSUwbkb @KimMulkey on Angel Reese situation.— Jacques Doucet (@JacquesDoucet) November 21, 2023
"If you do some disciplining of your own children, do you think we're entitled to know that?" #LSU @WAFB pic.twitter.com/n71pGbghwu
Nov. 19: Reese speaks out on social media
While not sharing any specific details on the situation, Reesesurrounding her standing with LSU through a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
"Please don't believe everything you read," Reese wrote.
please don’t believe everything you read.— Angel Reese (@Reese10Angel) November 19, 2023
Nov. 17: Reese misses first game for undisclosed reasons
Reese was nowhere to be seen at the Pride Roofing University Center as LSU picked up a 73-50 win against Southeastern Louisiana. Poole was on the court for just five minutes.
Mulkey did not give much of an explanation regarding Reese's absence.
"You want me to explain why? It was very obvious Angel was not in uniform," Mulkey said. "Angel is a part of this basketball team and we hope to see her sooner than later. I'm not going to answer anymore. That's it. That's all y'all need to know."
“You want me to explain why? It was very obvious Angel was not in uniform. Angel is a part of this basketball team & we hope to see her sooner than later. I’m not going to answer anymore. That’s it. That’s all y’all need to know.”— Women’s Hoopz (@WBBWorldWide) November 18, 2023
- Kim Mulkey on Reese’s absence tonight#NCAAW pic.twitter.com/jpHVI3rUml
Nov. 14: Mulkey benches Reese at halftime
Kent State has not made the NCAA Tournament since 2002, yet the Tigers had to fight for a two-point lead at halftime in their own home arena.
LSU made adjustments and finished the night with a 109-79 win. However, it was notable that Reese, who started the game, did not check during the second half. Meanwhile, Poole didn't play at all, but was on the bench. Mulkey described Reese's second-half benching as a "coach's decision."
Nov. 6: LSU stunned by Colorado in season opener
The Tigers started the season ranked No. 1, but they were upset 92-78 by then-No. 20 Colorado in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Series in Las Vegas. No other reigning champion lost a season opener since 1995.
During the postgame press conference, Mulkey said the next practice was not going to include a "fun film session," but instead it would be a "come to Jesus moment."
"I'm disappointed and surprised in some individual players that I thought would just be tougher and have a little fight and leadership about them," Mulkey said.
"I think [Mikaylah Williams] and Sa'Myah Smith did all they could, but look at them. You're talking about a true freshman and you're talking about a true sophomore. We need more than just them. We needed more than those two to have a little bit of fight within."