By Alex Chambers, August 2015 Issue.

Heading into the 2015 season, the Phoenix Mercury knew there were going to be some big shoes to fill on what was the roster of the WNBA championship team just 10 months ago.

Photos courtesy of NBAE via Getty Images.

On Feb. 5, the team announced the signing of forward Monique Currie, and a few months later she arrived in in Phoenix for training camp – ready to make Western Conference debut.

“I love it, I love it,” Currie said. “Everything has been great. The organization is a first class organization. The team, everybody is cool. Sandy is great.”

Currie was selected with the third overall pick in the 2006 draft by the (now defunct) Charlotte Sting, and went on to play briefly with the Chicago Sky before eventually spending the majority of her career with the Washington Mystics.

Born in Washington D.C. in 1983, Currie attended the Bullis School in Potomac, Md., and went on to attend Duke University, where she named a two-time All-American, was one of only three Duke players to score over 2,000 points and led Duke to the 2002, 2003 and 2006 NCAA Final Four.

In her career, Currie has averaged 10.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, has started 250 of 275 games and was also named a WNBA All-Star in 2010.

She also spent eight of her first nine years in the WNBA very close to home. Now, more than a month into the season, Currie said she’s still trying her best to adjust to her first Phoenix summer.

“It’s still hot as hell out here,” she said with a laugh. “No complaints, except for the heat.”

But it wasn’t the weather that brought her here. At 32 years old, Currie became a free agent for the first time in her career, giving her the opportunity to seek out a team that matched her own personal goals.

“I have aspirations of winning a championship. That was a big part of me making the decision of where I wanted to go,” Currie explained “Phoenix has a tradition of winning, and I felt they had some great pieces here. This team was on my list of where I wanted to go. They were interested in me and here I am.”

Currie hit the ground running in training camp.

“Sandy (Brondello) has been around the game awhile, she was a player herself really. She really knows what to put into a camp,” she said. “Camp was hard; we were working hard, but also working smart. Her system is great for players to be able to make decisions, and just play basketball, and that’s been a lot of fun for me.”

Photos courtesy of NBAE via Getty Images.

Currie also realizes that she brings to the team more than just basketball skills.

“I can bring some veteran leadership. I’m one of the oldest players on the team,” Currie said. “Seasoned. Very seasoned.”

Currie’s seasoned presence has already made an impact on the team’s dynamic. Just a month into the season, Currie’s averaging 10.5 points and 4.2 rebounds a game (just under her career average). A majority of her rebound average (3.2) have been defensive rebounds, keeping in line with Brondello’s emphasis on defense.

“Sandy stressed from day one the importance of defense, and working on that,” she said. “So, we’ve been paying a lot of attention to that and I’ve been paying a lot to my defense personally. On the defensive end, trying to shut other teams down.”

In her debut at the Phoenix Mercury home opener playing against the San Antonio Stars, Currie shot an impressive 6 for 14 from the field (42 percent), along with 3 defensive rebounds and 2 assists. Most of those points did come in the second half as Currie and the Mercury got off to a slow start, putting up a mere 11 points in the second quarter.

“We’re still getting to know each other,” she said. “I think once we kind of figured some things out we started to pick it up a little bit.”

Off the court, Currie mentioned she is looking forward to sampling various types of cuisine that Phoenix has to offer.

“I’m a foodie. I love trying new restaurants and different types of food,” Currie said. “I hear that Phoenix has a lot of different places to eat, so I’m looking forward to that.”

To get to know more about Currie, follow her on Twitter at  @mocurrie25 and on Instagram at @mocurrie.

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