Angel Reese 'no substitute' for fallen LSU star, Kim Mulkey says tragically

The LSU women's basketball team will welcome Angel Reese back Thursday night after an inexplicable four-game absence, but head coach Kim Mulkey feels another player will be missed.

Five minutes into LSU's Nov. 24 Cayman Islands Classic game against Niagara, sophomore forward Sa'Myah Smith tore her ACL, MCL, and medial meniscus during a fastbreak. After five minutes, Smith had two rebounds and two blocks before being gone for the season.

"It's just so sad for her, because she's improved by leaps and bounds," Mulkey told ESPN. "Angel being back kind of helps, but there's no substitute for the value of Sa'Myah and what she's meant."

Reese was benched at halftime in LSU's Nov. 14 triumph over Kent State. Since then, the team and star forward have not explained why she was benched and missing for four games.

 Thus, social media users speculated without evidence that Reese was fired for bad grades.

The great forward wrote on X (previously Twitter): "Don't believe everything you read." Mulkey glows when talking about her star ahead, suggesting the bizarre story is behind both of them.

"It's a boost having her back," Mulkey said Wednesday. One of the nation's greatest players, she is. She matches up well with [Elizabeth] Kitley, but not just for this game, but throughout the season."

LSU will benefit from Reese's 17.0 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.0 steals in 22.3 minutes. The Most Outstanding Player of the 2023 NCAA Tournament may start or bench versus Virginia Tech on Thursday night.

Stay tuned for developments.