There is no denying the tremendous impact Curtis Jerrells has had on Fenerbahce Ulker’s season thus far. As the team’s sixth man, his spark helped carry the Turkish champs through Group A from first place and into the Top 16. But now the road gets tougher. Especially with the news that starting point guard Roko Ukic has broken a finger and will miss the start of the Top 16. Much of the burden that has opened up will fall on Jerrells’s shoulders. And how he responds could be a determining factor in how this season shapes up for the club from Istanbul.
Jerrells is in the midst of his second Euroleague season. It was baptism by fire last season as he walked into Partizan Belgrade, with no previous European basketball experience, and started his Euroleague career with back-to-back road trips to Moscow to face Khimki and Tel Aviv to face Maccabi Electra. In the end, Jerrells scored double figures in both games and helped Partizan finish tied for second place in the teams’ Euroleague Regular Season group and move on to the Top 16. He played even stronger in the Top 16, especially on the road, and proceeded to help Partizan finish the season with Adriatic League, Serbian Cup and Serbian League titles. By the summer, Jerrells was a proven commodity and Fenerbahce was eager to sign him.
A Texas native, Jerrells was a college basketball star at Baylor University, where he became a four-year starter, led the team in scoring and assists in all four seasons and finished ranked among the top four all-time in scoring, assists and steals. After starting his professional career with Austin, where was named to the 2010 all D-League third team, Jerrells took his game to Europe and has found success.
An offensive dynamo, Jerrells stands out because there is virtually nothing he can’t do with the ball. He has good shooting range to the three-point line and superb ball-handling ability with both hands that he uses to create his own shots or to get to the basket, where his speed and strength allow him to finish against bigger players. And his court vision means he can get the ball to the open man for easy baskets.
It’s no coincidence that in Jerrells’s three best games this season in which he had a performance index rating of at least 20, Fenerbahce Ulker went 3-0 with an average margin of victory of 13 points. The pressure will be on him entering the Top 16, but all signs point to him being up for the challenge and helping his team move closer to its first Playoffs appearance since 2008.