Angel Reese raised a few eyebrows when she decided to stick close to home this summer. Now the top undeclared senior women's basketball prospect in the country is busy planning five fall trips.
Reese, who declined an invitation to try out for the USA Basketball U19 team so she could spend one last summer with her AAU team, has narrowed her college list from 10 to five. She will take her official visits to Maryland, South Carolina, Southern Cal, Syracuse and Tennessee.
"I want to be able to play my position, grabbing a rebound and taking off on the dribble," said Reese, who plans to study kinesiology and business.
So far, the No. 2 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100 for the 2020 class has scheduled two of her visits: Maryland (Sept. 6-8) and Tennessee (Sept. 13-15). She plans to sign in November.
"I'm looking for a team that is family-oriented -- a home away from home," said Reese, a 6-foot-3 wing at St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Maryland). "I want to win a national championship."
First, she is enjoying her last season with her AAU club, Team Takeover.
"I wanted it bad," Reese said when asked about making the U19 team. "But I didn't want to leave [Team Takeover]. It's my last year with these girls. Next year, if I'm invited for Team USA, I will go."
Team Takeover coach Ron James said Reese's choice says a lot about her loyalty.
"I was shocked that she declined Team USA's invitation," said James, whose team, led by Reese, has gone 28-1 this summer. "I told her it was her decision, and, at one point, she was going to go try out. But we preach a lot about sacrificing for the good of the team, and, ultimately, that led her to decide to stay with us."
Even without the USA Basketball roster spot, Reese has a full itinerary this summer.
On a typical summer weekday, she wakes up at 5:45 a.m. to get in a workout. From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., she works at a youth basketball camp. She finishes her day by working the register from 5 to 9 p.m. at Smashburger.
"It's fun working with different people," Reese said. "For me, I don't think it's really hard. I don't get tired, and I don't like to be home much. I want to stay occupied.
"My mom has influenced that because she has done everything on her own, raising my brother and I."
Her mother, also named Angel Reese (formerly Webb), played basketball as a 6-foot forward at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and professionally in Luxembourg.
"In the recruiting process, coaches refer to me as Mama Angel or Big Angel," she said.
Mama Angel's other child is also a basketball player. Julian Reese, already 6-8 at age 15 and in the class of 2021, has offers from Virginia Tech, Stony Brook, Ohio University and others.
In addition, (young) Angel Reese's stepbrother, Mikael Hopkins, played at Georgetown and professionally in Turkey. Their father, Michael Reese, played at Boston College and Loyola as well as professionally overseas.
Angel Reese, though, is not in contact with her father. Instead, Reese said, it's been other people who have helped raise her, such as her maternal grandparents, Curtis and Barbara Webb.
In fact, it was Curtis Webb who bought her the car she drives, a used Toyota Avalon, complete with a fuzzy pink cover for her steering wheel.
That gift aside, Reese is working hard to be as independent as possible before she heads off to college.
During her first two years at St. Frances, Reese took a train/bus combination to get to school -- a journey that required 50 minutes each way.
As a freshman, she started all 31 games and averaged 10.7 points and 10.5 rebounds, leading her team to a 30-1 record and an Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland state title, competing among 29 other independent schools.
St. Frances lost its final game of the year, falling 56-55 in overtime to Hamilton Heights Christian Academy (Chattanooga, Tennessee) at the GEICO Nationals in New York. Reese hit a putback at the buzzer to send that game to overtime and finished with 20 points, 24 rebounds and six assists.
"I think she's the best player in her class," said 5-8 guard Nia Clouden, who scored 12 points in that game and is coming off a standout freshman season at Michigan State. "She has guard and post skills and all the tools to be a really good player."
As a sophomore, Reese averaged 17.6 points, 12.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists, making first-team All-Metro as named by The Baltimore Sun. St. Frances finished 24-4 that season, winning another IAAM championship.
She scored 22 points and grabbed 19 rebounds in the Capital Classic, an all-star game for players in the Maryland/Washington D.C. area. She was named the event's MVP.
Reese got her nickname of "Big Ticket" from her trainer, Jimmy Price, who said that people would one day pay to see her play.
St. Frances coach Jerome Shelton said Reese, who has been working on her shooting, is driven to improve.
"She's a Type A personality," Shelton said. "She's not interested in resting on her laurels. She wants to max out her ability. She wants to be better than everybody else."
As a junior last season, she averaged 22.6 points, 4.2 assists, 2.5 blocks and 2.3 steals.
"What colleges like is that she's a positionless player," Shelton said. "She can guard everybody, and she can score on anyone."