Sky rookie Angel Reese’s star power already being felt in Chicago

Reese’s jersey sold out on the online WNBA store within days of her being drafted by the Sky with the No. 7 overall pick.

Chicago Sky rookie Angel Reese speaks during a press conference in Deerfield.

The Sky’s no. 7 overall pick, Angel Reese and No. 13 overall pick Brynna Maxwell were introduced to the media Wednesday at the team’s practice facility in Deerfield. Paul Beaty/For the Sun-Times

 

Angel Reese’s entrance ahead of her introductory news conference with the Sky was a sight to behold.

Gone were the luxuries of playing for LSU, the 2023 NCAA women’s basketball champion. Her stark new reality included a seat at a folding table in a public recreation center and playing for a team that won its lone title in 2021.

She’s back to square one, something she had mentioned looking forward to previously. Reese echoed those sentiments Wednesday in Deerfield.

“I don’t want to go into the league thinking that I’m automatically on a team, because I’m not,” Reese said. “Anybody can get cut any given day.”

But Sky general manager Jeff Pagliocca and coach Teresa Weatherspoon didn’t draft her or No. 3 overall pick Kamilla Cardoso to cut them. They drafted them to be the future of the organization. And they’re already proving that they have the necessary star power to become Chicago luminaries if their development proceeds accordingly.

For Reese, that development means evolving into more of a stretch four with a range that extends beyond the paint.

The Angel Reese effect is already being felt in Chicago

“Growing up, I always watched Candace Parker,” Reese said. “Her being here before, and being able to see her now, she’s always been a versatile player.

“I like watching big guards. That’s where I want to get my game. Being able to be a big guard, stretch four, point forward.”

The Cardoso/Reese impact already is being felt within the franchise.

South Carolina coach Dawn Staley — who has Atlanta Dream season tickets — told the Sun-Times she plans to buy courtside season tickets even though she likely won’t be able to attend many games in person.

“Kamilla’s going to be there by herself,” Staley said. “If she meets friends and wants them to come to the game — I know she gets tickets — but to be there up close and personal is a little bit different.”

Gonzaga guard Brynna Maxwell, the Sky’s No. 13 overall pick, was introduced, as well. The realities of making a WNBA roster — which is capped at 12 players — puts Maxwell on the chopping block going into training camp.

But Maxwell could provide the Sky with some much-needed shooting. She just has to prove that her offense will translate to the professional level in training camp.

“My shot is a pretty unique shot,” Maxwell said. ‘‘I provide some offense that they’re lacking. Everyone’s fighting for a spot, and there are a lot of good players. We’ll see how it shakes out.”

Reese’s jersey sold out within days of her being drafted by the Sky and opting to wear No. 5 instead of No. 10. Cardoso and Reese wore No. 10 in college.

After the draft, the Sky saw an influx of followers on social media, and ticket sales also have received a jolt.

“I’ve taken on that [celebrity] role,” Reese said. “A lot of players have, a lot of players from my class.

‘‘It was a really historic class in being able to change things. Going in the right direction is really important.”

The 2024 WNBA Draft class has drawn comparisons to the NBA’s Larry Bird and Magic Johnson era, which paved the way for Michael Jordan’s legendary run with the Bulls. From 1986 to 1992, Jordan and the Bulls practiced out of the same recreation center Reese will call home.

The Sky have been touting plans for a new practice facility since last year but have yet to announce anything concrete.

Co-owner and operating chairman Nadia Rawlinson told the Sun-Times last week that her hope is to make an announcement before the start of the 2024 season.

 

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