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Currie to return for final season

When Monique Currie told teammate Jessica Foley last week that she was passing up her final year of eligibility and jumping to the WNBA, Foley was disappointed.

Only there was a catch—it was an April Fool’s joke.

Currie assuaged her teammates’ fears Wednesday when the ACC Player of the Year announced she has decided to stay at Duke for another season, even though she is on pace to graduate in May.

“This has been one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make,” Currie said. “I’ve decided to come back next season and try to pursue a championship.”

Currie, who has an extra year of eligibility because of a medical redshirt in the 2002-2003 season for a torn left anterior cruciate ligament, remained quiet all season about her plans for next year. After Duke’s loss to LSU in the Elite Eight last week in a game in which Currie struggled, the pressure on her to decide intensified.

“I’m a competitive person with competitive spirit—it definitely was hard for me to just walk away with a loss like that, without saying that I gave all that I could,” Currie said.

WNBA scouts followed Currie all year and said during the season that she was almost guaranteed to be a top-five pick in the April 16 WNBA draft if she were to leave Duke.

She did not make up her mind until this weekend when she attended the Final Four and was honored for being an All-American.

“Since the WNBA’s inception, I have always wanted to be a part of that and it has been an ultimate goal of mine, but also to win a national championship has been an ultimate goal of mine,” Currie said. “Just watching and feeling like I want to have a chance to maybe get there next year—that definitely had a huge effect on me and my decision.”

Currie comes back to a squad that should be vastly different from this year’s Blue Devils. Gone are the days when head coach Gail Goestenkors will have to make do with only eight healthy players. With Currie’s return, the only expected loss is senior forward Wynter Whitley.

The Blue Devils will be bolstered by the second-best recruiting class in the nation, which includes four top caliber players. The Blue Devils are also anticipating the return of point guard Lindsey Harding, who said Wednesday that she expects to play next year after sitting out the year for an undisclosed violation of team rules.

Currie and Harding both said that the opportunity to play with one another next year was a reason for Currie’s decision.

“I wanted her to do what was best for her, but every now and again I would throw in comments about how much I wanted her to come back,” Harding said. “I remember talking to her and telling her that everyone misses college—it’s only four years and she gets a fifth year.”

The return of Currie provides the Blue Devils with the leadership necessary to carry the team toward the program’s elusive first National Championship.

“Monique has grown so much over the past year in particular, and it is exciting to see the possibilities for her and our team next season,” Goestenkors said.

Currie will graduate with a double degree in Public Policy and African American Studies in May. She has applied to Duke’s Graduate School next year for the Master’s in Arts & Teaching and Liberal Studies programs.

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