CURRIE'S GAME TAKES LEAP FORWARD

Albany Academy star drawing Div. I interest for basketball and track

JAMES ALLEN STAFF WRITER
Section: Sports,  Page: C9

Date: Sunday, February 20, 2011

ALBANY -- The 2010 portion of the boys' basketball season for Albany Academy guard Jelanie Currie produced solid results, but the 6-foot-4 junior lefty has made a giant leap forward since 2011 began. Making sizable leaps is hardly new for Currie.


As a sophomore, Currie won the state Division II championship in the triple jump. His boundless strides forward on the basketball court are now getting noticed, too.


After averaging 15.2 points per game in his first eight outings, Currie has averaged 20.7 points over his past 10 games.


"He is deadly in the high post. Jelanie's game is moving in tight spaces," Albany Academy coach Brian Fruscio said. "You can't really crowd him because he is so long. College guys are starting to notice. It is easy when you (triple) jump 48 or 49 feet, and probably will get to 50 this spring. The track guys have the numbers. The basketball coaches are taking notice, which is really nice for him as a junior."


Currie's basketball exploits have not only garnered Division I interest, but he has also helped the Cadets earn a No. 2 Suburban Council seed for the Section II Class AA playoffs. Albany Academy (9-9) opens up Tuesday night against visiting Amsterdam (6-12).


Ivy League schools have already reached out to Currie for both basketball and track. Schools like Georgia, UConn, Virginia, Army and Navy are all interested in his track skills.


"It will be a tough decision next year. I love both," Currie said. "I try to put as much into both as I can. You only get to do this once."


Currie's father Neil, also a high school track star in the triple jump, played basketball at Siena College from 1984-88 for coaches John Griffin and Mike Deane.


"He's real fortunate. Genetics are a powerful thing. His dad had the exact same choice to make," Fruscio said.


Currie competes in football, basketball and track and field for the Cadets. The junior was thrust into a new role during the football season when quarterback Hunter McCarthy, a three-sport star himself, went down with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Currie helped the Cadets advance to the Section II Class B semifinals.


On the basketball court, Currie is a handful to defend because he is wiry for a guard and can finish with both hands around the basket against bigger defenders.


Through huge portions of games, Albany Academy plays with five guards on the floor. Currie often is guarded by bigger defenders.


"Jelanie is such a quiet kid, but has an inner drive that makes him special," Fruscio said. "He is our top scorer. What is making that so impressive is he is drawing the other team's best defender."


After scoring 22 points each in wins over Kingston and Lansingburgh to open the season, Currie's point production fluctuated over the next six games. With McCarthy not being on the floor, roles needed to be defined. Fruscio sat down with Currie, junior Matt LaClair and sophomore Darrien White.


"Jelanie, Matt and Darrien have all stepped up in different ways this year," Fruscio said. "Jelanie really took it to heart, that he had to put the ball on the ground and get places. That is really the change in his year. He is getting to the rim."


Currie is exceptionally fluid and often catches defenders off guard with how quickly he glides to the basket.


"The kids are calling it the Euro-step. It is amazing. He will start his move from outside the top of the key and he is already at the rim," Fruscio said.


Currie has scored 20 points on seven occasions and reached the 30-point plateau twice -- 31 against Albany on Jan. 21 and 32 vs. Mount Anthony at Times Union Center on Feb. 3.


"He's grown up a ton (as a basketball player), and guys are really starting to play off of him," Fruscio said. "He has allowed Matty and Darrien, and the other guys, the space they need to succeed."


Asked which performance this season he is most proud off, Currie immediately said, "Albany is a tough place to play. That was a good team win."


Currie, who says he needs to improve his outside shot and become a stronger defender, was asked by Fruscio to become his go-to scorer and he has delivered.


"He's a special young man," Fruscio said.


Reach James Allen at 454-5062 or jallen@timesunion.com.