My freshman year at UofL I had a pretty neat experience. My first RA named Ronnie was a UofL transfer who played college basketball somewhere up north I believe and was very interested in playing basketball when we had free time. It was billed as a community building exercise but we were quick to realize that most of my floor at Miller Hall comprised of Speed School students in their first year or some people not interested at all in basketball.
Undeterred, we drafted a few guys I knew and played ball in high school with and some people on the other floors. We met Ronnie in the SAC normally on Monday nights to play a few games and then hope to get on the ‘good’ court. If you played back in the day you know which court I am talking about. I had the pleasure, or embarrassment at times, of playing on that court with our team against the likes of Bush, Brohm, Urrutia, Douglass, etc. It was a fun time and I was astonished at how good my RA was at basketball. I know this makes no sense or relates to Angel but I am getting there…
One day we walked over to play our game and got there a bit early and I saw my RA playing in a game on the good court. The next thing I saw, he was getting crossed over by this girl and then she took him to the hole. I was impressed, shocked, dumfounded until she did it again and made my RA look average at best. She then had a fast break and almost dunked it and then I was done. After that game, he introduced me to his friend named Angel. I was immediately a fan and had to know more about this player and suggest she play for Rick Pitino.
Through my RA at first and then on my own, I saw Angel a lot. She was always in the SAC or in some of my ‘preferred schedule’ first and second year classes. We talked and she joked around with me all the time. (I to this day am not sure if she knew my actual name or what she always called me but I will go with she knew it and just seldom used it…actually she may have at graduation who knows)
Anyway, I knew that she would do great things and was determined to see more. I started to regularly attend women’s basketball games and was very impressed. For any critics of the women’s game, I advise you to go watch it and then get back to me. The women’s game is what I would show my players if I were a coach. The basketball skill is top notch and they really execute plays and fundamental technique. They don’t rely on being able to jump over everyone or the status of being the biggest guy on the court, they PLAY BASKETBALL. This is not to say that they are not athletic wonders, THEY ARE they just don’t rely on it. Case in point is Angel who could fly but was also a sound basketball player.
When I would go to these games, or at the SAC, it was always a joke that Angel would dunk it just once. She messed with me about doing it multiple times and then would say she couldn’t or was close but I KNOW what I saw at the SAC and every game I went to, I was hopeful she’d just throw one down. I didn’t want that for my sake of entertainment but for her sake and the program’s sake for the attention it would bring to the program if they got on ESPN for having a collegiate female dunker. The program was trending up and just needed to have its place in the spotlight to make the rest of the world take notice.
Well, they noticed alright, and it was not due to a dunk. Before leaving UofL, Angel led this team to the NCAA title game for a team that finished 34-5 on the season.
She was then selected #1 overall for the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA. On top of that, she was the WNBA rookie of the year and is a multiple time scoring champion.
I fear that the community has not really forgotten about Angel, but we fail to appreciate exactly HOW GOOD she has been.
What has spearheaded this sentiment is that I didn’t see much coverage of the fact that Angel was selected for her second stint on the US Women’s National team for the OLYMPICS! A huge honor was bestowed upon one of our own and it flew under the radar. Not to get into a sexism debate or anything but imagine Gorgui or somebody being selected to win a back to back gold medal in the Olympics or Teddy doing the equivalent in football…Angel is quietly having one of the best pro careers of former cardinals and I think we should all pay attention.
One huge moment, in my opinion, was the unveiling of the gallopalooza horse in her honor. That was a big step and it showcases a lot of her accomplishments. I am proud to have gone to a university that honors a former student-athlete, a former female student-athlete in such a way. I say none of this to criticize any fans or coverage or anything…I ultimately aim to serve as a reminder that she is still doing great things and we should still be paying attention.
Angel was recently picked among the 12 best players in the country, and by default, the world. She was selected on a team that picked her for a second time and ahead of other notable and household names who were not selected. This is a much larger deal than many of us realize and I hope we all can send well wishes her way as the team prepares for Rio. Follow Angel on Twitter
If you read this Angel, best of luck in the Olympics and moving forward. I know a city will be watching you and cheering you on.