With the NBA draft a little more than a day away, much focus has been given to the top college picks contending for contracts with the league’s teams.
It seems certain that John Wall out of Kentucky will receive the first pick and be drafted to the Washington Wizards, but the rest of this year’s top potential players have less certain futures.
Wall has created a buzz throughout the world of basketball, but another, more experienced guard exhibits just as much (if not more) promise as a soon-to-be NBA star. His name is Evan Turner.
Turner, a 21-year-old junior out of The Ohio State University, attended high school at St. Joseph High School in a suburb of Chicago—Westchester, Illinois. By his senior year, he had become one of the top high school basketball players in the country.
He was then recruited by Ohio State (his father lived in Columbus, which made his decision much easier), and in his freshman year he averaged a respectable 27.1 minutes and 8.5 points per game.
As a sophomore, Turner became the leading scorer in the Big Ten, and he was selected for the All-Big Ten Conference Tournament team. By his junior year, Turner was averaging an amazing 35.8 minutes and 20.4 points per game for Ohio State.
The Buckeyes went on to win the Big Ten Championship by defeating the Minnesota Gophers (a game in which Turner scored 31 points), and even though they were eliminated in the Sweet 16 by the Tennessee Volunteers, Turner received the Naismith College Player of the Year Award for his excellent season.
There is no question that Turner is special. He trailed John Wall in scoring by only about one point per game (15 points per game to Wall's 16.6). Turner’s ball control is so good it is sometimes scary, and his body awareness is second to none. His free-throw shooting is also nothing to ignore, at 79 percent.
He is, without a doubt, a top contender to be chosen within the top five picks in Thursday's NBA draft, but an advantage that Turner has over many other players in this year’s draft is something that cannot be demonstrated with numbers: character.
Many players will enter the draft after only the required one year in college. Turner is a down-to-earth young man that chose not to leave Ohio State because he simply “liked college.”
Unlike many young players, Turner didn’t “jump the gun” too early; he realized he had more growing to do (in his sport as well as his life). He is well adjusted and remains un-jaded by the fans, fame, and soon-to-be fortune.
So which team will he soon call home?
Wall will most likely go to the Washington Wizards as the first pick of the 2010 NBA Draft, and Turner could (and should) be chosen second and become a Philadelphia 76er.
Philly needs a strong all-around player with the confidence and charisma to revive a franchise, and it will find these traits in Evan Turner.
With some training, Turner should have no trouble transitioning into the NBA, and he has the potential to be a franchise-reviving player.