Tucked behind Scotts Branch Elementary School sits a basketball court with smooth green pavement, clean backboards and brilliant white lines. As students from the Scotts Branch Recreation Activity Center shot jumpers and layups Monday morning, music played over speakers near the entrance to the court.
Randallstown native Angel Reese — the guest of honor — stood nearby. Her family and friends laughed and reminisced about the girl they saw grow up here who has become one of the most famous and talked-about athletes in the country. Last week, she won an ESPY for best breakthrough athlete. Now, she was back where it began.
She may have picked up the nickname “Bayou Barbie” after leading LSU to a national championship, but Reese made it clear that this is home — and that having the newly renovated court named in her honor was a meaningful gesture.
“I go to LSU, but Baltimore, Randallstown is always home for me,” Reese, wearing a gray Tigers shirt, told the crowd. “I just want to thank everyone for coming and to give hope for the kids in the crowd that one day this could be you.”
Reese was joined by Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. and other local and state leaders, such as Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones, Maryland Del. N. Scott Phillips, County Council Chairman Julian Jones and County Councilman Izzy Patoka.
After cutting the ribbon to the new court, Reese revealed a sign over the gate entrance: “Angel Reese Court. Dedicated in Honor of 2023 NCAA D1 Champion Angel Reese.”
Reese also spent a moment inside the RAC facility, talking and taking photos with kids before being escorted away as the crowd around her grew.
Reese and her family declined interview requests for this story.
“I go to LSU but Baltimore, Randallstown is always home for me,” Reese said at the podium, wearing a gray Tigers shirt. “I just want to thank everyone for coming and to give hope for the kids in the crowd that one day this could be you.”— Angel Reese
Olszewski said that he was motivated to renovate the court after he noticed worn-out backboards and faded lines while visiting school sites and recreational facilities. It became so dilapidated at one point that it was shut down for three months. Olszewski said he worked with the Department of Recreation and Parks and allocated funds to make changes to courts around the county. A member of his communications team floated the idea to dedicate one of them to Reese.
On Monday, Olszewski saw the investment come together firsthand with Reese in attendance and kids playing on the renovated court. Before the ceremony, Olszewski joined them and played for a few minutes.
“They saw the value in the investment in themselves,” Olszewski said. “They recognize that with the investment there, and also across the county, that we’re investing in them and their future and their successes. And to tie that with someone who is as well-known and dynamic as Angel Reese was really just a nice way to bring the two things together in a way that our young people there, and hopefully beyond, really know that we are both investing in them, that we believe in them. But that they, too, can be like an Angel Reese in the future. As someone who has a 7-year-old daughter, I thought it was especially poignant for me to have the opportunity to cut the ribbon and name the court in honor of Angel today.”
“She’s an icon right now,” Burns said. “Everybody knows her, everybody in Baltimore knows her, and for her to bless us here at this court and for the county to donate this court to her, it’s a blessing all the way around for everybody.”— RAC Coordinator Evers Burns
RAC Coordinator Evers Burns, a longtime friend of the Reese family, has already noticed an impact from the investment, as well as Reese’s influence.
“She’s an icon right now,” Burns, who played basketball at the University of Maryland, in the NBA and overseas, said. “Everybody knows her, everybody in Baltimore knows her, and for her to bless us here at this court and for the county to donate this court to her, it’s a blessing all the way around for everybody.”
Burns said Reese coming back reinforces the importance of hard work for kids attending the facility.
“What it’s going to show is how hard they’ve got to work if they want to get to that level,” Burns said. “I’ve had some success professionally, some of my staff has as well. That just reiterates what we’ve been teaching them already. You have the skills to do it, but do you have the determination to do it? Do you have the will to do it? You see it in Angel, you see it in us, let’s see it in you.
“It’s not a microwave society, it’s a five-course meal. You’ve got to work if you want to get to that level. There’s no easy route, there’s nothing going to be given to you. She worked for everything she has, now it’s your turn.”