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Chicago Sky forward Angel Reese (5) is seen during a WNBA basketball game against the Dallas Wings, Wednesday, May 15, 2024, in Arlington, Texas. Dallas won 87-79.

Chicago Sky forward Angel Reese (5) is seen during a WNBA basketball game against the Dallas Wings, Wednesday, May 15, 2024, in Arlington, Texas. Dallas won 87-79.

How Angel Reese has juggled her first month as a professional athlete

ARLINGTON, Texas — Angel Reese has made it perfectly clear that she has no intention of being one-dimensional in the WNBA.

Since being drafted by the Sky with the No. 7 pick a month ago, Reese attended her first Met Gala, appeared in a Good American ad campaign that’s featured on billboards in downtown Chicago and made her WNBA debut. She had 12 points and eight rebounds in the Sky’s 87-79 loss to the host Wings on Wednesday night.

On Saturday, she’ll graduate from LSU — she majored in interdisciplinary studies and minored in communications, leadership and psychology — in the morning. That night, Reese will play in her second game, a rematch with the Wings.

“It’s a weight lifted off of my shoulders not having to do school anymore,” Reese said. “A long two years at Maryland and finishing out at LSU is special.”

Reese was unsure if she would attend the graduation ceremony in Baton Rouge.

The rookie experience is a unique one in terms of the juggling many have to do in the first few weeks. Reese is not the only rookie who was drafted but still had classes to finish.

Other rookies who were balancing schoolwork and training camp included No. 1 overall pick Caitlin Clark of the Fever and No. 14 pick Nika Muhl of the Storm.

Clark and Muhl missed their graduation ceremonies. Their teams surprised them with unofficial ceremonies. The Fever presented Clark with a “certificate of graduation” Sunday before practice.

In Seattle, Muhl was brought to tears when what she thought was going to be a photo op in her cap and gown on the practice court turned into a full-on ceremony. All of her teammates and the Storm staff were present. Coach Noelle Quinn presented Muhl with her “Seattle Storm class of 2024” diploma.

All of the Wings’ rookies already had graduated by the time they made it to Dallas.

This year, Reese has taken the “majority” of her classes online. She credits LSU with helping her make that transition.

Reese’s workload has included meeting with her teachers once or twice a week via Zoom to get her assignments.

Ahead of her WNBA debut, Reese told reporters her mom, also Angel, and her brother have been her motivation.

“As a parent of a student-athlete, you’re always proud of the on-court accomplishments,” Reese’s mom shared on social media. “Her degree from LSU is what I’m most proud of.”

Rookies’ responses have varied on the pressure of juggling class and trying to make a WNBA roster. Of course, Reese’s position with the Sky was never in doubt, but for a player such as Muhl, there was less certainty.

Sky guard/forward Diamond DeShields said the transition to the WNBA while finishing school is not unlike what players deal with during March Madness. Guard Dana Evans had a different opinion.

“It’s difficult,” Evans said. “You’re trying to learn a whole new system and get adjusted to adult life. Juggling those two and still having school to worry about is not easy at all, but that’s why you have us here. We’ve been really helpful to the rookies, being there for them.”

When Sky coach Teresa Weatherspoon made her WNBA debut, she already had been out of college for almost 10 years. Still, she acknowledged the skill displayed by Reese and other rookies as they balanced finishing school and their pro debuts.

“How they prioritize things says a lot,” Weatherspoon said. “It says a lot, them being young and knowing what they want to do and how they have to get it done. When they step between these four lines, they’re ready to go.”

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