Impressive performance, an Angel Reese next for LSU women’s basketball? Kim Mulkey unleashes emerging weapon who could ease Angel Reese pressure in March Madness

Aalyah Del Rosario is gaining confidence in the LSU women’s basketball team’s rotation at a crucial time, and she could provide key minutes at the NCAA Tournament if her progress continues

Aalyah Del Rosario made her presence felt against Texas A&M.

Aalyah Del Rosario made her presence felt against Texas A&M. (

Image: Getty Images)

LSU women’s basketball freshman Aalyah Del Rosario delighted teammates with a superb stretch of play in the second quarter of an 81-58 win over Texas A&M on Monday night.

Her development in recent weeks could give head coach Kim Mulkey much-needed front-court depth entering the final stretch of the season, reducing pressure on starter Angel Reese to carry a heavy work load without getting into foul trouble.

Del Rosario, a 6-foot-6 first-year forward, smoothly finished a breakaway layup before hounding the Aggies at the defensive end, notching a steal and then blocking two shots in quick succession during her impressive second-quarter stretch.

LSU has sometimes struggled when it needs to reach into its bench for help down low. Against South Carolina, Reese’s foul-induced early departure contributed to a gut-wrenching defeat, as the team couldn’t pick up the slack without one of its top interior presences. If Del Rosario can provide anything of value as a substitute at the NCAA Tournament, it would go a long way in bolstering the Tigers’ title hopes.

Del Rosario arrived at LSU with fan fare. She was the No. 7 recruit in her class, according to ESPN’s rankings. Yet her playing time has been up-and-down, and she’s not received the same consistent role as fellow newcomer Mikaylah Williams.

The flashes of what she can become, though, have been clear. Not long before the Texas A&M showdown, she scored 11 points in 14 minutes against Florida and nine points in 13 minutes at Vanderbilt.

Aalyah Del Rosario is trying to earn a consistent place in LSU's rotation.
Aalyah Del Rosario is trying to earn a consistent place in LSU’s rotation. 
Image:
Getty Images)
Mulkey has been impressed by Del Rosario’s upside, even though she’s asked the New Yorker to become more versatile defensively and be able to switch onto smaller players outside the paint.

“I have watched her body change,” Mulkey said via On3 earlier in the season. “She’s become leaner and she’s mobile now. She moves and she runs and she did some things tonight she couldn’t do earlier in the year. She’s very proud of herself. When you see results you become really confident. Think about the beatings she takes from guarding Angel Reese every day. That’s not a bad thing, because it’s going to make her better against better players.”

The veteran coach wants Del Rosario to show more fierceness. Against Texas A&M, her determined presence inside made a massive impact for a sustained second-quarter stretch.

“Here’s what I tell Aalyah: ‘I don’t want you to be a Kia, I want you to be a Mack Truck,'” Mulkey said. “She loves that. She thinks that’s funny. I want her to play like a Mack Truck and then once we get off the court, be whatever you want to be, but when you’re playing, use what God gave you and blessed you with.

“She’s a very nice kid and sometimes I’ll see something come out of her and I’ll think, ‘Yes I’m getting deep in that soul.’ She has all the skills, she just needs playing time.”

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