The women’s collegiate basketball season has gotten off to a very exciting start, with both the game’s parity and star power on full display every single game. It has felt a lot like March, even in November. Regretfully, nevertheless, the dominant narrative in the media has not focused on the proceedings on the court but rather on the individuals who have vanished from the court. The drama started in the second half of LSU’s 109-79 victory over Kent State when Angel Reese, the unanimous first-team All-American from the previous season and the 2023 NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, did not play.
Her return from a protracted two-week absence was well-documented. But it appears that her hiatus had a significant impact. And it has affected the most significant talk of the town, the national player of the year, seemingly standing no chance this season.
Angel Reese’s shocking fall in rankings
The task of selecting the top 25 players for women’s college basketball for the 2023-24 season was no easy feat. However, ESPN managed to do so, and nine players who were not included in the preseason rankings back in November have now made it to the list.
One player who was a unanimous choice for the number one spot was Caitlin Clark, a senior guard from Iowa. She has been leading her team in scoring in Division I with remarkable consistency. Nevertheless, Angel Reese’s score dropped to an abysmal 11, which was based on subjective analysis.
ESPN has released their top 25 ⚡️
Do you agree? pic.twitter.com/r11cEwsIVv
— Women’s Hoopz #WBB (@WBBWorldWide) December 21, 2023
It cannot be ignored that she missed four games and was inexplicably benched early in the season. However, both Reese and the Tigers seem to have recovered nicely from their struggles in November. In her comeback game against Virginia Tech, Reese scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds, displaying the same brilliance that helped LSU win the national championship the previous year.
Since then, Reese has been averaging at least 20 points per game while showcasing her signature relentlessness on the offensive boards. She now leads the country in the number of times she crosses the free-throw line each game, thanks to her prowess in drawing fouls.
Clearly, her mysterious absence for two weeks has not helped her cause as the defending champion is now out of top ten spots.
What’s new in the top 25?
Despite not being included in the preseason roster, some NCAA freshmen made their presence known very quickly. The list includes three rookies, and impressively, two of them have managed to secure a position within the top 10. The potential of certain newcomers to make a compelling case for themselves and progress to higher ranks is acknowledged, and this factor is taken into account in the revised list.
Furthermore, the revised list was affected by the occurrence of injuries as well. To be considered for this top 25 list, players must have played in at least half of their team’s games so far.
Like Angel, Azzi Fudd proved unlucky this season. The member of the UConn basketball team will not be able to play for the rest of the 2023-24 season due to a knee injury. And this might deny her the much-deserved ranking her immaculate play deserved.