Defending champion LSU adds DePaul star Aneesah Morrow

Watch some highlights LSU fans are getting with Aneesah Morrow (2:10)

As Aneesah Morrow transfers to LSU, check out some of the best plays from her college basketball career so far. (2:10)

DePaul transfer Aneesah Morrow, who has established herself as one of the nation's premier offensive talents and rebounders, has committed to defending champion LSU, she told ESPN on Friday.

USC and South Carolina were the other finalists for the 2021-22 national freshman of the year.

"I'm never intimidated by playing against or playing on a team with amazing, talented players," Morrow, a rising junior, told ESPN. "That's what I want to be surrounded around. I want to be around players who are going to make me better. I feel like we're going to challenge each other on a day-to-day basis. We all have the same end goal, and that's to win the national championship, to win the conference."

Morrow's decision marks the second major transfer addition for LSU coach Kim Mulkey after leading the Tigers to the program's first national title in her second season in Baton Rouge. LSU loses three starters, but by adding Morrow and Hailey Van Lith -- ESPN's top two transfers in the country -- and ushering in the nation's top-ranked recruiting class, the Tigers have all but cemented themselves as the preseason No. 1 team in the country.

Morrow burst onto the scene as a freshman at DePaul -- the Blue Demons' Wintrust Arena is about 15 minutes from her high school of Simeon. That year, the 6-foot-1 forward was a second-team All-American after averaging 21.9 points (on 51.9% shooting) and a nation-best 13.9 rebounds. As a sophomore she averaged 25.7 points (No. 4 in the country) and 12.2 rebounds (No. 7).

"I really enjoyed my time here at DePaul," said Morrow, a two-time All-Big East first-team selection. "I learned so much here and in the city of Chicago."

But, the South Sider said, "I feel like I was a butterfly in a cocoon and now it's time for me to go and spread my wings."

Despite putting up big numbers and garnering individual accolades, Morrow said she experienced "empty seasons because I had nothing to show for it. No championships in the conference or no ring either." DePaul bowed out of the NCAA tournament in the First Four her freshman season and missed the postseason this past year.

With Morrow and Final Four Most Outstanding Player Angel Reese (a former Maryland transfer) joining forces, LSU now has the only two players in the country from last season who were top five in scoring and top 10 in rebounding.

"Angel Reese talked a lot about how she would love to have me there as a teammate, but it wasn't just her. It was the other girls on the team as well," Morrow said. "They specifically talked about winning. That's what they want to do there, and that's what I'm trying to do. I feel like as athletes and true competitors, you want to win day in and day out. And when you come together as a team, you know that you can accomplish that."

No detail was left untouched in Morrow's hotel room during her official visit to LSU last weekend. As captured in Morrow's TikTok, LSU-branded confetti and fake $24 bills (referencing her jersey number) with her face littered the floor. An array of signs graced the walls -- some with Morrow photoshopped in an LSU uniform, others trumpeting how the Tigers led the country in attendance last season. And just in case anyone forgot what LSU achieved last month in Dallas, a huge poster of a national championship trophy was strewn across her bed.

In the TikTok, Morrow's camera pans printouts highlighting a potential LSU lineup. Reese and SEC Freshman of the Year Flau'jae Johnson are included, as are Van Lith and incoming freshman Mikaylah Williams. The former announced her commitment to the Bayou last week, while the latter is the No. 2 recruit in the class. A silhouette of a fifth player occupies the middle. "Fab Five," one sign was captioned. "The Missing Piece," read another.

Now, the basketball world will wait to see how Mulkey will make it work. Last season she turned a roster with nine newcomers into a national-title-winning squad. With seismic transfers and impactful freshmen coming in, a fresh challenge awaits -- one Morrow says the team will surmount.

"They did talk to me about how much damage we could do. I kind of feel like I already knew that when you put that much talent together," Morrow said. "I know I'm hearing a lot about people saying that we won't come together as a team and be able to play because there's so much talent, but I don't feel like that's something that we will struggle with next year at all, or the year after."