By Paul M. Banks
For part one of this interview go here
MILWAUKEE- Club Trillion blogger, and Ohio State walk-on Mark Titus has been referring to national player of the year Evan Turner almost exclusively as “The Villain” in his blog lately. And for good reason, Turner’s play is making him a polarizing figure to college basketball fans everywhere. Last night, I stayed in the same hotel as the University of California-Santa Barbara. Hotel bar conversation conveyed just angry many partisans of the teams vanquished by Turner and the Ohio State Buckeyes this year have become.
If he’s on your side- you love him. “He’s been fun to watch this year, he knows when to turn it on. Especially in the Illinois game towards the end when he kind of took over and just got to the rim at ease, and he’s been doing that all year for us,” Titus said on NCAA Selection Sunday. He also cast his hypothetical Naismith and Wooden award votes for Turner:
“I don’t see how he could not be. I don’t see how anyone else could be in contention. There are flashier players maybe, but there’s certainly not a better player in the country,” Titus continued.
Turner struggled mightily last night, shooting just 2-13, but here’s what his coach Thad Matta had to say after the Big Ten Tournament, which ET flat out owned.
“You know, at what point I literally said, hey, take the game over, and that’s when he hit the three off the pull-up. But when you say that to a guy like Evan, he’s so cerebral basketball-wise, he can do it with the pass, you can do it with the defensive stop. But his play-making ability is really good…I mean, this has to go down as probably — I know I’ve been in this league for six years. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Of course, if you’re playing against Turner, you probably don’t enjoy his body of work so much. Evan’s body language last night showed he was discontent with the way the game was going, and even OSU fans were critical of the way he (at times) dealt with the media and his team. Last weekend, he was candid about his disgust with the Illini trash-talking. “They were just running their mouths too much, and that was it.They were hitting shots and front runners, and they were running them off entirely too much. That’s all I’m saying,” Turner re-iterated.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term “front-runner” he means they only talk smack when they’re winning, and remaining quiet when the game is tight. Of course, Turner is anything but innocent in this exchange, as we saw him make the “grasping money” signal with his hands towards the Illinois bench in one of the overtime sessions of the game.
I asked Titus what he thought about what went down last weekend.
“I know Demetri and Evan, they’re high school teammates, and I’m sure Demetri might feel that he’s getting slighted a little bit with Evan getting all the attention for being National player of the year and all that, so I don’t know if it’s jealousy or what’s going on, I know Evan probably had a few words for him too, so I’m not picking sides or anything. they’re still good friends,” the chairman of Club Trillion said.
But if Club Trillion is about anything, it’s about philanthropy, and all the t-shirts sold at Club Tril are for a great cause- A Kid Again, a charity benefiting children with life threatening illnesses.
“Something I’m definitely very proud of, the fact that I can raise $35,000 for them. It’s pretty cool to think someone that never plays, I’ve raised a $1,000 for every minute I’ve played in my career, which is a pretty amazing accomplishment I think. Maybe I open up a door for other athletes down the road, like maybe someone like Evan, sell shirts of his own and do some sort of similar thing down the road, better athletes more well known than I am. If a guy who never plays can raise that kind of money I can’t imagine what someone like Evan or Tim Tebow could do,” Titus said.