Even after winning a national title and becoming a transcendent star in college basketball (and beyond), Angel Reese showed up for the youth team that helped raise her.

With no notice or fanfare, Reese would slip into the gym when Team Takeover played tournaments — including an event in New Orleans, not far from where Reese starred for LSU — current team member Jordyn Jackson said.

“I didn’t know most of the time [when Reese would show up],” Jackson, a top recruit in the class of 2026 who plays at Sidwell Friends in D.C., said. “I was just surprised. I was like, ‘Oh my God, it’s Angel.’”

Now, the whole Team Takeover program — which draws top talent from the region, including Baltimore and surrounding states — will gather in D.C. Friday night to cheer on Reese and watch her live out her WNBA dreams when the Chicago Sky play the Washington Mystics for the second time in eight days.

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Reese is coming off the best game of her rookie season, scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in a loss to Connecticut on Wednesday night. She has recorded a double-double in four straight games.

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Since winning a national championship her junior year, Reese has become a celebrity, bringing new eyes to college and professional women’s basketball. She appeared in a music video, declared for the WNBA draft via Vogue and attended the Met Gala. While another rookie, Indiana’s Caitlin Clark, has dominated the headlines, members of Reese’s former AAU basketball team view her as their inspiration and an example of how far basketball can take them.

“For the young ladies around here and in the state, gosh, it’s such a movement and such a need,” said Ron James, Team Takeover program director and head coach of the 17U girls’ team.

Baltimore and the DMV have produced several big-time men’s players, including Kevin Durant, but now, with Reese, there’s a female athlete from the state to inspire the girls, James said.

James remembers how Reese did things the right way as an athlete in high school. She washed her and her teammates’ jerseys and helped organize breakfast orders for early-morning food runs when the others didn’t want to wake up in time.

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Even after leaving the program to attend college, Reese returned to sit on the bench and give pointers to players, including Zhen Craft, a rising senior from Forestville.

“It’s really inspiring ... to see someone grow and potentially seeing myself being able to do similar things as that,” Craft said. “I’m really grateful for the opportunity to even say that I’ve met her before.”

Craft, who met Reese when she was in seventh grade, admires Reese most for her leadership. She wants to emulate how Reese encourages her teammates and hypes them up during games.

Jackson, a rising junior, aspires to have the same level of confidence that Reese plays with, but she also wants to model her “swag” and how she presents herself.

Although both girls are DMV natives, they won’t be wearing gear in support of the Mystics on Friday. Instead, it will be all Angel Reese.

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The Mystics play most of their home games at the Entertainment and Sports Arena, which has a capacity of 4,200, but they moved the June 6 game against the Sky to the much larger Capital One Arena, which can house more than 20,000 fans.

In front of 10,000 fans, Reese tallied 16 points and 11 rebounds.

The second game in D.C. will be at the Entertainment and Sports Arena. As of June 11, the cheapest ticket available on Ticketmaster is $151.

James credits how current players use social media as one reason for the game’s growth. The more people hear from the current players on social media, the more invested they become in them. Reese is a frequent poster on social media with outfit-of-the-day videos and other posts that highlight her style and personality. She’s one of the most popular women’s basketball players on multiple platforms with 3.3 million followers on Instagram and 3.4 million on TikTok.

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“The upswing of interest in watching women’s basketball, at the collegiate level and now at the pro level, is because they’re more connected with the current players — meaning they know who they are, they know their history,” James said.

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With the rise in popularity, Reese has become a role model to girls across the country but especially those in her home state.

“They marvel at her, like they really, really look up to her, and I know she takes pride in that,” he said.