LSU’s Kateri Poole no longer with team, Kim Mulkey says: Is this a sign of concern for Tigers?

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 Head coach Kim Mulkey of the LSU Lady Tigers talks with Kateri Poole #55 during the first quarter against the Iowa Hawkeyes during the 2023 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament championship game at American Airlines Center on April 02, 2023 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Kateri Poole is no longer on the LSU basketball team, coach Kim Mulkey said Sunday after the Tigers’ win over Louisiana-Lafayette. Mulkey declined to comment on whether it was a dismissal, a mutual agreement or Poole’s decision.

Poole started all six NCAA Tournament games for the Tigers last season during its national championship run. She appeared in all 35 games last season for the Tigers, averaging 4.5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 22 minutes a game. This season, she appeared in four games for the Tigers before Mulkey announced she was away from the team. Both Poole and Angel Reese didn’t make the trip to the Cayman Islands for the Thanksgiving games against Niagara and Virginia.

Poole becomes the second key player who the Tigers won’t have the rest of this season after LSU lost starting sophomore forward Sa’Myah Smith to a season-ending knee injury seven games into the season. The Tigers also didn’t have guard Hailey Van Lith available for the Louisiana–Lafayette game as the senior continues to deal with plantar fasciitis.

What are the Tigers missing without Poole?

Even though Poole started every tournament game during LSU’s title run, she was far from the most impactful guard/wing in the Tigers’ rotation. Flau’jae Johnson was a more impactful driver, Last-Tear Poa a better defender and Jasmine Carson caught fire to lead LSU in scoring during the championship game. Johnson and Poa both began this season ahead of Poole in the rotation, as did freshman Mikaylah Williams, meaning Poole was always going to be more of a luxury than a necessity in the Tigers’ repeat bid. — Sabreena Merchant, women’s basketball staff writer

Is this a sign of concern for LSU?

Poole’s major contributions to the LSU title run didn’t come on the court. Rather, she was the one who called up Reese and convinced her to take a visit to Baton Rouge when Reese entered the transfer portal in 2022. Without Poole’s encouragement, the 2023 Final Four most outstanding player may never have suited up for the Tigers. Poole seemed to be Reese’s best friend on the team, and even though Reese has returned to LSU after her unexplained absence, it’s worth keeping an eye on the team chemistry now that Reese no longer has her transfer buddy. — Merchant

Required reading

  • Forget the drama, Angel Reese and LSU are still national title contenders
  • Why isn’t LSU star Angel Reese with Tigers in Cayman Islands? When might she return?

(Photo: Tom Pennington / Getty Images)

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