By Paul M. Banks
Turner has been a triple double machine this season, and just last week became the second player in Ohio State history to exceed 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists in a career. He hails from the Southside of Chicago, near 21st and Pulaski, where he grew up a huge Bulls fan during the dynasty years. Evan has a very distinctive voice. One could even describe it as sounding a bit like a Muppet at times. But when Turner speaks, he’s quite charming. You quickly understand why he received hundreds of get well wishes (in every form of possible communication) after he suffered two broken vertebrae in early December.
The 6-foot-7 Turner averages Buckeye team highs of 18.6 points, 9.7 rebounds and 5.5 assists while shooting 58.3 percent from the floor. Here’s his most impressive stat though- four Big Ten player of the week awards, despite being healthy for just six weeks this season. He’s done it all while playing away from his natural position- the three and instead running the point; therefore filling the Buckeyes’ biggest need entering this season.
“My freshman year I played at the 2, and that was kind of different because I had to shoot a lot of 3s and I’m not really a 3pt shooter. That’s alright. I tried to make it work at the end of the season. My sophomore year I played at the four, and that was also different because I was going up against 6-9, 350 pounders. This year I’m playing at the point. My most natural position is probably out there on the wing. Our coach does a good job of putting in plays where I can score from there and feel comfortable,” Turner said about the position change.
In the six games Turner missed with broken vertebrae, OSU went 3-3 and started the Big Ten schedule 0-2. With him in the lineup, the Buckeyes are 12-2 this season.
Turner says penetration and play-making are his biggest strengths, and describes the following “tightening up my handle and shooting stroke, being able to improve my range and play consistent,” as what he needs to work on the most to get his game to the next level. Every NBA Mock Draft has him as a lottery pick, and most have Turner in the top five. So I asked Turner who he looks up to in the league. “I’m a big Brandon Roy fan, I think he’s a great player and a legit game,” he responded.
So if/when Turner forgoes his senior season and declares for the NBA Draft, he would continue the recent trend of Ohio State players becoming NBA lottery picks. And that trend was a huge selling point of the OSU program to Turner.
“Honestly, one thing was Daequan Cook, Mike Conley- they had coach bringing in big time players. If I could play at Ohio State and be a star there, then I could play well in the league. They have a lot of NBA players. It’s all about getting better as a unit, and getting better myself every day and meeting the challenge,” he said.