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“Angel Reese Is a People Magnet”: SportsCenter‘s Michele Steele Explores The WNBA Rookie’s Star Power

Before the 2024 WNBA season tips off tonight on ESPN and Disney+ platforms, preview Steele's upcoming profile of the charismatic Chicago Sky power forward who owns a massive social media following

From her days as the “Bayou Barbie” at LSU to being dubbed the “Chi Barbie” in her new WNBA home in Chicago, Angel Reese has quickly become one of the most marketable young sports stars.

As the seventh overall pick in this year’s WNBA Draft, the 6-foot-3 power forward brings much more than just her skills on the court. The 2024 SEC Player Of The Year and 2023 national champion with the Tigers has cultivated a massive social media following and a personal brand that draws plenty of interest from sponsors and marketing partners.

In a SportsCenter feature airing this week as the WNBA’s 2024 regular-season on ESPN2, ESPN+ and for the first time ever Disney+ tips off Tuesday night, Chicago-based reporter Michele Steele and bureau producer Jessica Shobar explore Reese’s booming marketability off the court and their storytelling.

Why was it essential to highlight Reese’s marketability?
Steele: She has over 6 million followers combined on TikTok and Instagram – that’s more than the WNBA’s own accounts. Angel Reese has charisma – she’s a people magnet who’s also worked very hard behind the scenes to amass that following and has a candor that is unique for her age [22] and position – on the cusp of what may very well be a long and successful professional career.

How did this feature come together?
Steele: I pitched it soon after the Sky’s introductory press conference for their rookies … Anything posted about Angel Reese, not just as an LSU star but as a pro, was instantly liked and shared. One follower told me they were going to buy the brand she was wearing. Quite simply, she is an actionable star who attracts new audiences across really important platforms.

What was it like interviewing the candid Reese?
Steele: We spoke on media day, and I was worried she would be ‘talked out.’ But as soon as we got into our questions, she lit up. It was showtime – we had a fun, honest conversation about this exciting chapter.

What do you hope viewers take away? 
Shobar: The women’s game is full of incredibly talented athletes but also wonderful women with unique personalities. I hope this piques interest in who Angel is and gets people interested in women’s basketball at every level.

Were there any fun behind-the-scenes moments? 
Shobar: In chatting with Angel, you really learn just how busy she is and how many different avenues she is exploring. We can only fit so much into the piece. Angel has a clear vision of her professional relationships and is constantly expanding her reach, so stay tuned!

Jessica Shobar and Vincent Coladonato produced the video above; Below is the complete feature as it aired on SportsCenter earlier this week.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Reese makes her regular-season WNBA debut Wednesday night when she leads the Chicago Sky against the host Dallas Wings. The WNBA season kicks off Tuesday night on ESPN2, ESPN+ and for the first time ever Disney+. Visit ESPN Press Room for details.

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