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Currie could leave early for WNBA

Monique Currie may call this year her last at Duke and jump to the WNBA. The junior wing, who red-shirted the 2002-03 season with a knee injury, will graduate this spring with a year of basketball eligibility remaining.

WNBA scouts have been impressed with Currie’s play this season and expect her to be picked somewhere in the top-five.

“She is one of the best players in the country, game in and game out,” Houston Comets head coach and general manager Van Chancellor said. “You can separate players by how they play in crunch time, and Monique stands out.”

Her outstanding play recently has improved her draft stock, as she has shown scouts that she is an exceptional athlete and a team leader.

“I like her competitiveness and desire to win first and foremost,” Charlotte Sting head coach and general manager Trudi Lacey said. “Against North Carolina she brought her team back in that game single-handedly and really showed some fire down the stretch.”

Currie has not given any definitive indication as to whether she will leave Duke or not after this season.

“I haven’t really thought about it,” Currie said. “I said at the beginning of the season that I was going to wait until after the season to make a decision.”

Currie also suggested that the team’s success this year will be one of a number of elements that factor into her final decision.

Duke head coach Gail Goestenkors said that she spoke only briefly with Currie about her plan, and Currie told her that she had not made up her mind yet.

“I don’t want her making any rash decisions after a big win or a big loss,” Goestenkors said. “I recruited making sure she had the option to come back. If she come’s back, we’ll have 14 players on scholarship. I wouldn’t have recruited another player because I wanted to give her the option to come back.”

Currie’s play on this year’s eight-woman squad has shown her strengths and weaknesses as a player.

Scouts continue to be impressed with her versatility. Currie’s strengths include driving to the basket, rebounding, scoring down-low and defending the other team’s best player.

Chancellor, who coached the USA’s women’s Olympic team this summer with Goestenkors as an assistant, said Currie’s versatility is an invaluable asset.

“She reminds me of a young Nykesha Sales at UConn, because they were similar in college and ’Kish had to improve her outside shot in the WNBA,” Lacey said.

Currie’s three-point shooting is the only major concern for WNBA scouts, who have been following Currie in person and when Duke plays on television. The junior said she is working hard to improve her outside shooting and noted that it has been a concern her whole career.

No female player has ever forfeited college eligibility in order to pursue a career in the WNBA. Currie may not be the only one, though, as players such as LSU’s junior guard Seimone Augustus and Arizona center Shawntinice Polk are also rumored to be considering leaving school early after this season.

“If you sign with a college, you ought to stay,” said Chancellor, who coached at Mississippi for 19 years. “Go to college, enjoy your time and play. It’s the best time of your life.”

The Comets will have the fifth pick in April’s draft, and the Sting beat long odds to win the lottery and will choose first. Other players expected to be picked early are Minnesota’s Janel McCarville and Notre Dame’s Jacqueline Batteast, both of whom have led their teams to victories over Duke during the past two years.

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