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Wynne does it on defense

A green sign with white letters outside the USF women’s basketball locker room reads: “Protect our court.” Freshman Jasmine Wynne tries to follow that saying every time she plays defense.

Wynne — the only freshman on the team — made her mark for USF on the defensive side of the ball. While the Bulls are known for their high-scoring offense, coach Jose Fernandez said Wynne has made a huge impact on the team’s 18-7 record.

“She brings a lot of energy,” he said. “I think, in terms of defensive intensity, she kicks it up a notch and brings depth to our backcourt. Right now, her defensive ability is very good.”

It’s not easy for Wynne, who said she has trouble staying calm before games.

“I’m extremely nervous before every game,” she said. “I’m nervous about how I’m going to play, if I’m going to turn the ball over and if my shots are going to fall.”

While the 5-foot-7 guard is known for her defensive mentality, her shots have been falling lately. Wynne went 6-for-8 from the field on her way to 14 points in an 80-51 victory over Seton Hall on Saturday. She said once the game gets going, the nervous energy slows down.

“Once they hit the ball I’m ready to go,” she said.

Being the only freshman on the team isn’t easy, but Wynne said her teammates have been very welcoming since she arrived at South Florida. After receiving offers from Louisville and Florida, USF was where she felt most comfortable.

“When I came to my visit it just seemed like a family to me,” Wynne said. “Family is a big part of where I come from.”

One member of that “family” is senior guard Jazmine Sepulveda, who said she tried to take Wynne under her wing this season and calls her frequently to work one-on-one. However, sometimes it’s not just Sepulveda doing the initiating.

“I was surprised when she called me one day and said that she wanted to shoot,” Sepulveda said.

Sepulveda said Wynne has the drive to bring USF to a better level in the Big East conference.

“For her to understand everything, and what coach expects as a point guard, says a lot,” she said. “It shows that she really wants to get better even though it’s her first year. I think she has a lot of talent, and she’s going to get better as the years progress.”

After helping the Bulls force 582 turnovers this year, Wynne will be looking to improve on her 6.3 points per game average for next season.

“I’m just focused on my game,” she said. “I don’t think I have anything left to prove.”

Wynne said while she’s at South Florida, she hopes to create and leave good memories.

“I hope to have left a legacy of being a great leader on and off the court,” she said. “I want to be a leader in steals by that time, and to have a reputation of being a great person and being trustworthy.”