Angel Reese sent clear WNBA Draft message as Shaquille O’Neal offers hint

LSU star Angel Reese’s decision to include NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal during her Senior Night festivities spoke volumes, despite her remaining mum on her WNBA Draft goals

Shaquille O'Neal's appearance at LSU's final game of 2024 hints at Angel Reese's collegiate career
Shaquille O’Neal’s appearance at LSU’s final game of 2024 hints at Angel Reese’s collegiate career (
Image: GETTY)

LSU star Angel Reese could potentially could have played her final game in Baton Rouge, if the appearance of Shaquille O’Neal is any indication.

Before the Tigers’ matchup with the Wildcats on LSU’s Senior Night, the four-time NBA champion was spotted walking into the Pete Maravich Assembly Center wearing a shirt emblazoned with Reese’s name and three of the LSU star’s outfits. Then when it came time to honor the seniors on the team, O’Neal was among the few to be present on-court as the crowd on hand praised Reese for her accomplishments with the Tigers.

As Reese was on the court with the 7-foot-1 LSU legend, the capacity crowd chanted “One more year!” in a clear message to try and convince the star forward to use her final year of eligibility, which she received as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and remain with the team.

However, the star power with Reese seemed a hint she envisioned Senior Night being her farewell to the Tigers with the potential to declare for the 2024 WNBA Draft. As LSU’s season reaches its conclusion, Reese has remained mum on her WNBA aspirations.

Reese and star guar Hailey Van Lith both have privately told LSU head coach Kim Mulkey what their plans are, specifically with regards to how long they intend to stay at the university. “Angel said when she came here, she’d stay two years, and Hailey said she’d stay one,” Mulkey told reporters in late February.

“I’m just not the kind of coach to sit people down and influence them on what agents to pick or talk about what they want to do. They surely know they have the COVID year to come back, and they would be more than welcome, but I try to stay away from having any kind of influential conversations. … They made it perfectly clear what they wanted to do.”

Angel Reese earned national recognition for her performances across three LSU wins last week.
Angel Reese earned national recognition for her performances across three LSU wins last week. 

Image:
Eakin Howard/Getty Images)
Mulkey also dropped a hint of her own in the fourth quarter of the LSU’s blowout win over Kentucky. The 61-year-old subbed out both Reese and Van Lith to a standing ovation from the crowd.

Mulkey’s decision to pull the two stars from the game to allow the crowd to celebrate them might be her way of signaling that both Reese and Van Lith are eying the WNBA. In terms of why O’Neal was there to support Reese, it just makes sense for the NBA legend to be at Reese’s potential last home game considering the two have become very close over the last year or so.

Reese has referred to O’Neal as a “father figure” and the NBA legend, who attended LSU, has helped her navigate her newfound fame. “He’s super inspiring to me,” Reese recently told USA Today regarding her relationship with O’Neal.

“He’s so genuine, he’s been there for me through tough times. He just gets it, and there’s not a more perfect person for me to be tight with.

“We have fun, and if I need anything, he would help me… and he would do that even if I never played basketball again. He doesn’t care about me as a player, he cares about me as a person.”

Reese was Reebok’s first major NIL signing. O’Neal is the President of Basketball, becoming the first person to hold that position, as the company attempts to get a market share in the basketball space, as it had in the 1990s.

In the end, though Reese had not formally stated her intention to declare for the WNBA Draft, it appears that the actions of the people closest to her spoke volumes of her plans moving forward.

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