Josiah Turner Benched: Arizona Guard Experiencing Growing Pains at New Level

Casey CroweFeatured ColumnistNovember 13, 2011

ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 26:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats shouts from the bench during the west regional final of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Honda Center on March 26, 2011 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Josiah Turner's maturity level is about to be given the old college try.

The hyper-gifted, but wild at times, true freshman point guard for the Arizona Wildcats arrived late for a workout before Wednesday's 67-59 victory over Duquesne, according to the Arizona Daily Star and

And Sean Miller made him pay, benching the projected 2013 NBA lottery pick to open that contest and then giving the youngster only 17 minutes of playing time for the duration.

Then on Sunday night versus Ball State, a 73-63 Arizona victory, Turner was posted up on a folding chair the entire evening.

Here's what Miller had to say about Turner's DNP (via AG's Wildcat Report):

“We care a lot about Josiah. It’s not like he’s a bad kid. He’s a great kid."

“He’s trying to find his way from where he left high school…on and off the court, making good decisions, working hard every day. Sometimes, especially very, very early in someone’s career, if they don’t play, it’s a feeling they haven’t had before.”

As the Arizona Daily Star's Greg Hansen pointed out, the Duquesne game may have been the first in Turner's entire life when he was purposely benched for 23 minutes. Then the freshman followed that by being benched for 40.

That's definitely not the type of start Arizona followers were looking for three games into his career.

Although Turner arrived to Tucson with a serious amount of on-court potential, there were questions about some of the decisions he made, especially after a very rocky high school tenure that saw him transfer from school to school, seemingly on a yearly basis.




He was eventually not allowed back on the team at Sacramento High School, his coach saying, "Josiah Turner won't be with the team the rest of the season for violating athletic rules and regulations and team rules and regulations," according to The Sacramento Bee.

His late arrival to practice is his most glaring public misstep in college so far, but he hasn't exactly excelled on the hardwood so far either.

His early returns: Turner went 0-for-1 with three turnovers and three assists against Duquesne, after going 1-for- 6 against Valpo.

Even despite the numbers, the talent is noticeable.

Turner's ball-handling abilities, speed and slashing are impressive.

But he's shown not-so-sweet tendencies, making ill-advised passes, picking up charges and generally having issues in distributing the basketball.

It's way premature to call Turner a bust.

By March, Turner may rebound to fulfill his potential and play a key role in a deep tourney run. But it looks like his transition to college hoops isn't going to be meteoric; it's going to take several months (years?) for him to grasp his new role.

Arizona forwards Jesse Perry (33) and Solomon Hill (44)
Arizona forwards Jesse Perry (33) and Solomon Hill (44)Harry How/Getty Images

The main reason for angst among the fans is what happened with Miller's highest-profile recruit of the 2010 class, a missed evaluation. 



Daniel Bejarano, one of the prime shooting guard recruits in the country, almost never took off his warm-up jersey in Tucson, scoring eight points all season before transferring to Colorado State.

The gem of that class is the sleeper, Jordin Mayes, who is taking over as the starting point guard for a team still very much in evolution.

With the amount of pressure heaped onto Turner in reviving Arizona to its former Point Guard U status, maybe a breather was crucial to refocus. Maybe Miller is challenging his young phenom to adopt better habits or risk watching more action than he creates.

The veterans (Kevin Parrom, Kyle Fogg, Solomon Hill, Jess Perry) were the ones who keyed the win over Ball State as the freshman looked on and caught an extended glimpse of their methods.