DALLAS, TEXAS - APRIL 02: 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

LSU Women's Basketball Player Inexplicably Leaves Program

LSU women's basketball player Kateri Poole is no longer a part of the program that is trying to defend its national championship title.

Defending a national title is rarely easy. Although they are 9-1 after 10 games this season and were No. 1 in AP's preseason Top 25 poll, the LSU women's basketball team has had its share of off-court issues.

The latest was revealed after Sunday's 83-53 win over Louisiana, when Tigers head coach Kim Mulkey announced backup guard Kateri Poole is no longer a member of the program.

The 5-foot-8 junior transfer from Ohio State has played in just four games with the Tigers this season, averaging 2.0 points and 1.5 assists and 12.5 minutes. She has not seen action since November 17, and did not play in LSU's November 14 game against Kent State due to a "coach's decision."

Earlier this season, Angel Reese, last year's leading scorer and rebounder, missed four games with little explanation from Mulkey before returning.

Mulkey was as tight-lipped about Poole's exit as she was Reese's absence.

"She's no longer with us," Mulkey said of Poole Sunday.

Poole was a starter during LSU's championship run in last season's Women's NCAA Tournament. She nailed a three-pointer in the championship game against Iowa that helped put the game out of reach and earn the Tigers their first women's basketball national title.

Mulkey became uncharacteristically emotional after the shot.

"With about 1:30 to go, I couldn't hold it," Mulkey said after the championship game. "I got very emotional. That's not like me, but I knew we would hold on and win this game."

Poole played in 35 games in 2022-23, starting six, averaging 4.5 points and 2.4 assists. She spent her sophomore and freshman seasons at Ohio State before transferring to LSU before last season.

After starting 13 of her first 14 games at Ohio State during her sophomore season, Poole suffered a minor injury. She averaged 4.8 points and 2.4 assists per game. Ironically, she played 10 minutes in the Buckeyes' second-round NCAA Tournament game against LSU that season. She played in all 20 games her freshman year, averaging 6.6 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists.

One can only speculate whether Poole's issue was related to a lack of playing time or a disciplinary issue. Either way, the seventh-ranked Tigers are still in a position to defend their national championship. If anyone can keep the team focused over the course of a grueling season, it's Mulkey.

MORE: Angel Reese Addresses LSU Absence After Virginia Tech Win