Evan Turner the junior to be at Ohio State recently turned down the fame and fortune of being a first round pick in the NBA. Turner will come into the season as a potential lottery pick.
Why pass on the NBA for at least another year? “We didn’t win a Big 10 title. And had an early exit in the tournament. I really like my teammates, and you know I like school. You only get to experience college once. And I came back to improve as a player.” Evan told me. What is there to improve on for a player who averaged 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists. To go along with shooting the ball 50% from the field and 44% from behind the line. “My three point shooting. I’m taking 300 hundred a day, just need repetition. I have to keep the defense honest. And I think I do a good job of seeing the floor, but I can always learn more. Also my ball handling and going left and getting stronger.” Turner currently this summer is in the gym a few times a day and also is working out with a strength and conditioning coach to take his game to that next level.
Turner averaged 46th in the country in percentage of possessions according to kenpom.com. A high number for any team hoping for great success. On a young team, Turner was needed to score and create. This season he hopes and plans on pressure being taken off, in one form being potential filled sophomore, William Buford who Turner will share the wing with. “I think he’s going to improve tremendously. Him and Jon Diebler can take a lot off heat off my back and open things up.” As an elder statesman this season, Turner is embracing a leadership role, “Without a doubt I want to be a leader more this year. Taking us into battle and embracing it. I learned from the older guys when I got here, Dave Lighty and Othello Hunter how to be a good player and compete. I think the guys here now, we all kinda have a bond and have gone through the fire together.” Turner feels the carry over from last season with the roster will only help, “We all have experience and we have good chemistry.”
One cause for concern for the program recently has been losing big men after one season; Greg Oden, Kosta Koufos and BJ Mullens. “It’s different, we have to adapt to new people. BJ definitely could have helped the team, but we have a ton of guys coming back. So, it’s not too bad. It’s part of life. At this level, basketball can become a business and people come from different backgrounds and have to do what’s best.”
Last season finished tough, a double over time loss to Siena, which Turner points out can only help, “We have to grow and learn to finish off teams and how to weather the storm. We just had a lot of careless turnovers. But it was a good eye opener. I just hate to lose, so it’s motivation to get back and go deeper.” What are the goals for this season? “A Big 10 title. Keep getting better going into the tournament.” Personally for Turner, “Take care of the ball. Shoot decent percentages. No accolades, if I lead my team and make plays, I don’t need accolades. I don’t need any trophy. So much is involved with that any, I can’t really control it.”
Overall in the Big 10, Turner sees his Buckeyes fairing well, “I think we’ll be at the top. We can throw out a lot of different lineups and options.” Turner found his toughest matchup last season to be against Minnesota. “Damian Johnson is tough, and they throw a lot of different defenses at you.”
For now, Turner is enjoying the offseason, while working out. Earlier this summer, Turner participated on the USA Team that competed in the World University Games. “It was an honor. It was different, but I enjoyed it. I think I went up against some really good competition and it’ll make me a better player. I really enjoyed it.” For the rest of the summer, Turner will head out to San Diego to work the LeBron James King’s Academy, and also will take a team trip to Canada with the Buckeyes.
Evan Turner is in for a great season that should not disappoint and a great career, and should continue to flourish on and off the court. His multi faceted game and high character is something that scouts already hold in high regard and should only continue to see his stock rise amongst college basketball pundits and NBA minds.