Indiana women’s basketball added its first transfer portal addition of the offseason last week when former UT-Martin forward Sharnecce Currie-Jelks announced that she’d be joining the program.
The first thing I noticed when watching Currie-Jelks was the huge knee brace. She sports a substantial knee brace on her left leg as she tore her left ACL during both her sophomore and senior years of high school. The knee held up fine last season as Currie-Jelks missed just two games due to an ankle injury.
At 6-2, Currie-Jelks was the tallest player on UT-Martin’s roster. Her length relative to the competition meant she could capitalize in one-on-one situations in the OVC. Here’s a good example:
When UT-Martin needed points in a critical moment, it went to a freshman. That’s big.
Currie-Jelks pulls up from a few feet out in the clip above but could’ve backed her defender down all the way to the rack had she needed to. Bunnies won’t come that easily in the Big Ten against formidable post players like Cotie McMahon and Alexis Markowski but Currie-Jelks has all the tools to score down low.
Much like many of her new Hoosier teammates, Currie-Jelks is offensively efficient. She finished third in the OVC in field goal percentage (53.9%) last season and made 73.8% of her 84 free throw attempts. Get her the ball down low and good things happen.
Currie-Jelks was not known to hang around the perimeter much for the Skyhawks. She attempted just 21 3-pointers last season and looked most comfortable operating in and around the paint. She could look to expand that aspect of her game, but I’d expect more of the same, with her working in the post, in the cream and crimson.
Post moves aside, the reason I’m most excited for Currie-Jelks’ arrival in Bloomington is her rebounding ability. She grabbed 6.9 boards per game last season and was a menace on the offensive glass, earning more than four extra possessions for her team on four separate occasions during her freshman season.
Indiana was a good rebounding team last season and finished fourth in the conference in rebounding margin (+4.3) but they still have some room to improve off the glass. Currie-Jelks can absolutely box out in the league and that’ll make life a lot easier for the likes of Indiana’s typical board machines Mackenzie Holmes and Sydney Parrish.
Defensively, Currie-Jelks looks like a force to be reckoned with. Indiana head coach Teri Moren has previously stated that she values “ball activity” on the defensive end on the floor and I’d bet her opportunistic playstyle caught her eye in this regard.
She had an impressive 39, four more than any IU forward, steals a season ago and also averaged a block per game. Indiana will be as fun as ever to watch on the defensive end in 23-24.
Frontcourt depth was arguably Indiana’s biggest weakness in 2022-23. Starting forward Mackenzie Holmes was a first team All-American and backup Lilly Meister looked good in spurts but the Hoosiers lacked a consistent third option down low. Currie-Jelks could be that!
Holmes will remain a stalwart in Teri Moren’s starting lineup but Meister and Currie-Jelks will probably be expected to split all of the non-Mack minutes. As good as Mackenzie Holmes was last season (literally the best post in the country), seeing her average nearly 31 minutes per game again doesn’t mesh with a potential deep postseason run well.
As equitable of a reps share as possible without a production drop off is the goal, and Currie-Jelks’ skill and athleticism make said goal attainable. Having another trustworthy and capable forward on the roster feels really good right now.