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Indiana basketball player preview: Sharnecce Currie-Jelks

One of the newest Hoosiers was potentially their most crucial offseason addition.

Syndication: The Herald-Times Bobby Goddin/Herald-Times / USA TODAY NETWORK

When asked about the addition of Sharnecce Currie-Jelks through the transfer portal during the offseason, Teri Moren was incredibly open about the thought process behind the move.

Here’s the full quote:

“Yeah, I think one of the concerns for us was how do we protect Mack a little bit in terms of her reps. So I think going out and finding a post player that can come in like Sharnecce — obviously she was a terrific player at UT Martin and has the statistics to back some of that up.”

“But I really feel like we needed to have another post player that can come in and not just help us but take some of those reps away from Mackenzie. I think Mack is back there, she’s not going to like to hear that, but the reason is because we know that the last two years, Mack has battled some injuries down the stretch, and so I’m not going to call it load management, but I will say that we’re going to have to try to protect Mack as well as we can in practices, long practices.”

“This is a long season, and a lot of those reps are going to be going to Sharnecce.”

“I think you’re going to see a young lady in Sharnecce that’s going to continue to improve inside of our program and really, really help us. But great kid. She and Chloe played summer ball together, so good friends there. Another kid from the Tennessee area. So we’re excited. She has a tremendous upside to her.”

The reality of the situation is that Indiana’s post presence was incredibly thin or inexperienced when Mackenzie Holmes became injured in the Big Ten Tournament. Her usual backup, Kiandra Browne, was also injured and the third string, Lilly Meister, was a freshman.

Holmes wasn’t at 100% for Indiana’s NCAA Tournament play. That’s just outside of anyone’s control. With Browne gone through the portal, Moren sought additional depth in the frontcourt and found what looks to be a great piece.

Currie-Jelks is new to Bloomington but has been able to spend time with teammates during the summer and the program’s trip to Greece. She was already familiar with Chloe Moore-McNeil, as Moren detailed above.

When asked if she had any favorite parts of town so far, Currie-Jelks had a quick answer:

“The gym.’

Indiana’s pitch to Currie-Jelks was the program’s culture of hard work up and down the roster on a daily basis, which ultimately won her over.


On the court

Currie-Jelks doesn’t have a great amount of experience but what’s there is impressive. She was named Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Year following a stellar freshman season for UT-Martin this past year.

When asked what she brings to the Hoosiers’ roster, she mentioned athleticism and height. Both of which are evident in her play.

Offense

A high-level scorer in the post, Currie-Jelks averaged 15.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game. That rebounding number in particular will be valuable for the Hoosiers, who’ve struggled in that category at times for the past two seasons.

When UT-Martin needed a game-winning bucket in overtime, the Skyhawks ran a play for her:

That’s reliability, and it’s exactly why she’s here in a Hoosiers uniform.

Her field goal percentage last season (53.9%) was good for third in the OVC. She’ll face high-level competition in the Big Ten but will have the time to get used to the new league.

She took just a few 3-pointers for UT-Martin, but I wouldn’t expect much perimeter shooting this season with Indiana having options like Yarden Garzon, Sara Scalia, Sydney Parrish and Moore-McNeil.

Defense

Gonna be real, the amount of defensive video we’re able to find on Currie-Jelks is... minimal. Which says more about access to WBB than anything.

The Big Ten is an entirely different monster than the OVC and it’s loaded at offensive talent in the frontcourt. But with that end of the court being such a point of emphasis at Indiana, it’s clear that the staff believes Currie-Jelks can handle it.

And, well, they haven’t been wrong before.