CHICAGO, Ill. – Chicago Sky rookie Angel Reese said people told her she wasn’t supposed to go to the Met Gala.

She wasn’t going to be focused for the Sky’s preseason game the next day against the New York Liberty. She wasn’t going to be ready for the regular season.

Turns out, she was just fine. The bright lights couldn’t outshine Reese.

“I went to the Mag Gala, slayed the Mag Gala in New York,” Reese said. “Came back, slayed against New York.”

“It’s what I do.”

Why Angel Reese and Kamilla Cardoso fit perfectly in a Chicago sports  landscape filled with young stars - Yahoo Sports

Reese, Kamilla Cardoso and Brynna Maxwell make up the three-player draft class for the Sky in 2024. They’re also a part of an incoming class that’s revolutionized women’s college basketball.

That energy has continued over to the WNBA. The Sky had Chicago Bears’ Caleb Williams, Keenan Allen and Rome Odunze, as well as Chicago Bulls guard Coby White, present at their preseason game Tuesday.

Williams, White, Blackhawks center Connor Bedard and Cubs pitcher Shōta Imanaga are a few of the new names on the Chicago block this past year. Reese, Cardoso and Maxwell fit perfectly in this new landscape.

“I mean, it’s a preseason game. No one forces anybody to do anything. Now that was their choice,” Sky general manager Jeff Pagliocca said. “I’ve heard from a lot of my ex-NBA clients about wanting to come and see games. It’s an exciting time in the WNBA. It’s not just here, it’s everywhere.”

Everywhere also includes Chicago, now.

The Sky didn’t draft Reese for her personal brand. But, it’s impossible to ignore. She has over 3 million followers on Instagram and won a national title in college. Cardoso is coming off a national title herself, her second in three years.

“With players that we drafted, they have a lot of attention, and at the time we just were looking for some size and athleticism and we were looking for a difference maker on the boards at the same time,” Pagliocca said. “We got a lot more as far as eyes on us and excitement and those guys coming out last night.

Cardoso fits Chicago with her strength. She talked about her mental and physical fortitude on Wednesday, which is crucial to thrive in a city like Chicago.

Lesser athletes have tried and failed.

Cardoso is already facing adversity with a shoulder injury that will keep her out 4 to 6 weeks. Any struggle was not seen on her face. She’s prepared to handle recovery and stardom.

“I’m a really strong person,” Cardoso said. “I’ve been through a lot and now I got here, I got hurt and yeah, just that I’m a really strong person and I’m very proud of myself.

The star power Cardoso and Reese bring rivals that of Williams with the Bears and is something the Sky last saw when they signed Candace Parker.

The difference is the Sky did this on their own accord, seeking out players that could improve their team. Those players just happened to be college players with two of the biggest profiles.

The Sky came into the offseason without a first-round pick. Come draft day, through various trades, they have two in the top seven.

In picking Cardoso and Reese, the team set up its future. In picking a player like Maxwell, a sharpshooter from Gonzaga, the team picked an identity.

Pagliocca said Maxwell said one of her first days with the team that no one on the roster will out-work her. She even tried to work through a knee injury that’s sidelining her for three to four weeks.

Other Chicago stars have shared Maxwell’s mentality.

“I mean, we’re kind of infusing something a little bit different into the city that maybe wasn’t expected,” Pagliocca said. “We’re riding the wave right now, just going to keep getting better every day.”

Reese, the seventh overall pick, already has a personal connection to the Chicago sports landscape.

Reese hails from the Washington D.C. area and knows Williams, who is also from the greater D.C. area. Reese said she and Williams have already talked about the potential of what they can do in Chicago.

“It’s so much fun,” Reese said. “Obviously, I know Caleb from back home and having those kinds of conversations, talking about how we can turn the city up and do so many great things while we’re here, and it’s just great being able to bring that winning culture back to Chicago and all sports, not just, not just the football like everybody and baseball as well.

Reese has captured that success before. Embracing a city is something Reese has done as a player.

She transferred from Maryland to LSU, bringing a national title to Baton Rouge.

“Just being able to have a city that’s winning and everything and knowing everybody loves you from all different kinds of sides,” Reese said. “Being able to just come together as a community for the right thing is something that I’ve always emphasized.”

Bridging the gap between her identities on the court and off the court will be something she can bring to Chicago.

“Everybody’s gonna be court side, the celebrities gonna be court side,” Reese said. “I was just talking, I was at the Met Gala and Usher is going to try to come up to a game in Vegas and Cardi B.”

It was a fun moment. It also serves as an example for how Reese’s influence and potential can go hand in hand.

“I know some people that y’all might not think I know, but I know,” Reese said.