When Angel Reese and the LSU Tigers captured the school’s first-ever women’s basketball championship last April after a 102-85 victory over Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes, it felt as though Reese was destined to be the sport’s next star.

Reese was named the Most Outstanding Player in the 2023 NCAA Tournament as many wondered what 2024 had in store for the forward.

While her scoring and rebounding averages were slightly down, Reese was still named the 2024 SEC Player of the Year behind an impressive 18.6 points and 13.4 rebounds per game. However, in the time since winning the National Championship, Reese’s jump to superstardom came with a terrible side effect, as she faced a lot of criticism on social media, much of which was rooted in racism or sexism.

After Monday night’s 94-87 season-ending loss to Iowa in the Elite Eight, Reese emotionally explained the toll the criticism has taken on her this season.

“I just try to stay strong. I’ve been through so much, I’ve seen so much, I’ve been attacked so many times. Death threats. I’ve been sexualized, threatened, I’ve been so many things and I’ve stood strong every single time,” Reese said before adding that it’s important to be strong for her teammates. “I don’t want them to see me down or to not be there for them. I’m still a human. All this has happened since I won the National Championship and I haven’t been happy since then. It sucks, but I wouldn’t change anything. I’m unapologetically me. I’m going to always leave that mark.”

Reese added a message to all the little girls who looked up to her, saying, “Hopefully it’s not this hard. Keep being who you are, keep waking up every day, keep being motivated, and be confident.”

Tuesday morning on ESPN’s Get Up, analyst Andraya Carter said criticism of college athletes should strictly be limited to on-court performance.

“To have a player of that level of greatness have to deal with so much… we have to reach a point, it should start with the college kids if it’s going to start anywhere where we are judging them on their performance on the court. I know Angel Reese, I’ve spent time with her. She is happy to accept criticism of her game. She is happy to talk basketball and be held to a higher standard on the court,” Carter said.

But, when the critics focus on off-the-court things, Carter feels that is over the line. “When the insults and the phrases said to her come at a personal level, that weighs on you. I’ve seen so many things about who Angel Reese is as a person from people who have never met her. And that’s what she’s talking about. She’s not talking about her game, she’s talking about off the court, coming for who she is as a woman. That’s what has to change,” Carter added.

[Clutch Points, Get Up]