The University of Kentucky women's basketball team added to its extraordinary depth of talent for the 2012-13 season Wednesday, announcing the signing of junior-college transfer Jelleah Sidney.
Sidney, a high school teammate of current UK players Jennifer O'Neill and Bra'Shey Ali, is a 6-foot-2 power forward who spent last season at Chipola Junior College in Marianna, Fla. Sidney arrives at Kentucky with three seasons of eligibility remaining.
Sidney's coach at Chipola, David Lane, said Kentucky is the perfect landing spot for his former charge.
"She is very athletic and very skilled. She is an aggressive offensive player and an aggressive defensive player. She has a nose for the ball," said Lane, who is now an assistant coach at Drake. "She fits well into what Kentucky does."
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Sidney, a native of Queens Village, N.Y., led Chipola in scoring as a freshman at 11.8 points per game and was the team's second-leading rebounder at 8.3. She also was second on the team with 46 steals. She was named second-team all-Panhandle Conference and also made the league's all-freshman team.
Lane called Sidney one of the most sought-after junior-college players in the country and credited UK assistant Matt Insell with getting her to Kentucky.
"He did a fabulous job," Lane said. "And it really helped her play well last season knowing she had good options."
Sidney spent her prep career at now-defuwnct St. Michael Academy in Brooklyn, where she teamed with Ali and O'Neill.
"There is comfort in playing with people you know," Lane said of Sidney's choice of Kentucky. "That familiarity had to help."
Sidney was rated as one of the nation's top 100 high school players by Blue Star Basketball, All-Star Girls Report and Collegiate Girl's Basketball Report. She committed to Syracuse out of high school but had to attend Chipola to complete some academic requirements.
That was not the first obstacle Sidney has had to overcome in her pursuit of basketball. She tore anterior cruciate ligaments in both knees during her freshman and sophomore years in high school but is showing no ill effects now.
"She fights through those things and keeps pushing and pushing," Lane said. "She's the type of player who never complains and that's pretty rare."
Kentucky Coach Matthew Mitchell said in a statement released by UK that he is "beyond excited" to have added Sidney to the fold.
"She is a player I wanted to coach the very first time I ever saw her play," Mitchell said. "Her unique set of skills, which include many intangibles we look for, will add immediate value to our program."
Kentucky, the 2012 Southeastern Conference regular-season champion, returns eight of nine starters from last season's Elite Eight team. In addition to Sidney, Kentucky will welcome DeNesha Stallworth, an all-Pac-10 transfer from California, and Janee Thompson, a McDonald's All-American from Chicago. Plus, O'Neill returns after sitting out 2011-12 with an injury.