1 of 5 | LSU women's basketball standout Angel Reese (R) missed the Tigers' last four games for an undisclosed reason. File Photo by Ian Halperin/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 30 (UPI) -- LSU basketball standout Angel Reese, who missed the Tigers' last four games for undisclosed reasons, will return to the court to face Virginia Tech on Thursday, coach Kim Mulkey said.
Mulkey told reporters about Reese's return at a news conference Wednesday in Baton Rouge, La. Reese's hiatus started at halftime of the Tigers' 109-79 victory over Kent State on Nov. 14 in Baton Rouge.
She missed games against Southeastern Louisiana, Texas Southern, Niagara and Virginia. The No. 7 Tigers went 4-0 without their star forward.
"It's a boost having her back," Mulkey told reporters. "She's a tremendous player, one of the best in the country."
Mulkey also announced that sophomore forward Sa'Myah Smith will miss the rest of the season because of a knee injury.
The veteran coach again declined to elaborate on why Reese skipped the last four games. She said Reese was practicing during that time, but did not provide details about when those sessions started or what they entailed.
Mulkey also said that junior guard Kateri Poole is not with the team, but did not say why she is absent.
Mulkey said Reese's initial benching was a "coach's decision." She also cited "locker room issues" coaches regularly face, when asked earlier this month about Reese's absence.
Reese has also declined to elaborate on why she missed time with the Tigers, outside of when she wrote "please don't believe everything you read" Nov. 19 on her X account, as speculation surged on social media.
She also liked a post on X, which contradicting a report that she was suspended because of a low grade-point average.
Reese, a preseason Player of the Year favorite, started the first four games of the regular season for the reigning national champions. She averaged 17 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.0 steals per game so far this season.
The Tigers (7-1) will host the No. 9 Hokies (5-1) at 9 p.m. EST in Baton Rouge. It will be shown on ESPN.
Reese scored 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the Tigers' 79-72 win over the Hokies in the Final Four at the 2023 NCAA Division I women's basketball tournament. She went on to log 15 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals in the Tigers' national title game victory over Iowa on April 2 in Dallas.
She was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.
"Based on what I've seen, I really think Angel will be just like Angel," Mulkey said. "She has been good. She has been really good in practice."
The LSU Tigers celebrate their 2023 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball National Championship after beating the Iowa Hawkeyes 102-85 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas on April 2, 2023. Photo by Ian Halperin/UPI | License Photo