When most people hear the name Myles Turner, they immediately think of his incredible athleticism, or his condor-like 7'2" wingspan, or his great hands that he uses so well on both ends of the floor. Indeed, Turner's hyper-elite physical attributes and skills are the reason he is a consensus top five prospect in the Class of 2014.
The reason that I so deeply covet him for Texas, however, is his drive. Myles Turner has that internal drive to be Great -- not good, not very good, but Great -- that fuels the best of the best. Don't get me wrong: Turner would be an NBA basketball player either way, but his competitive fire, ambition, and work ethic separate him from other equally skilled players. Myles Turner is blessed with the size and skills to be great, but in some important ways his most attractive attribute is his own determination to be Great.
Not every special talent has it (in fact, most don't), and you can't teach it. You've either got it or you don't. And Myles Turner has it in spades.
Myles Turner Player Profile
Myles Turner has it all. Size, athleticism, quickness, agility, explosiveness, balance -- he's one of those rare 7-footers who has the ability to look comfortable anywhere on the court. In that way he's a bit like Isaiah Austin, to whom he's sometimes compared, except Turner is less polished offensively than Austin, but much tougher -- both physically and mentally. Where Austin can at times look like he wishes he weren't so tall so it would be easier to avoid having to play in the paint, Turner is hungriest when he's close to the cup, and looks eager to grow into his frame, which is well built to carry the muscle mass he needs to add.
Part of what makes Turner especially lethal on a basketball court is his explosiveness. You just don't see many guys his size who have the spring and burst that Turner regularly features. Athletically, Prince Ibeh is a pretty decent comp for Turner, except that Turner is even more explosive, and is both more coordinated and developed/polished than Ibeh was coming out of high school. Turner jumps like he's a 6'6" small forward rather than a 7-foot center.
He plays like one, too. Don't tell Myles Turner he can't do something on the basketball court, because (a) it'll only serve to bring out the beast, and (b) you're wrong.
Turner's game really does span the entire basketball court, and he relishes being able to swat your shot in the paint, pop a three in your face, and posterize you with a thunderdunk all in one game. As he continues to develop physically, his radius will likely shrink in towards the paint more, but that will mostly come during his professional career. For now and the immediate future, he's going to continue to have flashes where he looks like a grossly oversized guard.
It might be a troubling -- or at least annoying -- trait on a lesser talent, but Turner isn't being reckless or hardheaded. The kid has great handles (both right and left) for his size, excellent vision and court awareness, silly quickness and agility for a 7-footer, among the best shot blocking instincts and timing you'll ever see on a player, and a legit jump shot that he'll extend to 20 feet at times. That hardly seems fair, and it isn't. Which is why Myles Turner will be paid millions of dollars to play this game we love.
In terms of weaknesses, you have to start picking nits with a talent like Turner. He is, however, just 18 years old, so like everyone else he's got a lot of development still to come. He is much much more developed as a defensive force than on offense, where he is noticeably raw with his footwork on the blocks. It shows that Turner is a late bloomer -- he was just 6'2" when he played on his high school's freshman team -- and his footwork is a modest weakness now that should, given his full profile, one day (and probably sooner rather than later) be a substantial strength. Along the same lines, Turner needs to continue to get stronger, and his lone year in college may be a bit underwhelming compared to the beast he has been in high school and will be as a pro after a couple three years developing physically.
I don't need to say much more about Turner's game; you won't have trouble seeing it all for yourself in any of the videos below. The last thing I want to say about his profile, though, relates back to what I said earlier about Turner's drive. I really, really love what Turner's got between his ears. The size, athleticism and skills are filthy, but it's his attitude that gives me butterflies.
At the risk of placing unfair expectations on him, Turner reminds me of Kevin Garnett in some fundamental ways. Like Garnett, he's got a legit jumper that he gets off with great balance and a quick release; he's dangerous all over the court because he's equal parts quick, explosive, long, and versatile; and he's got a nasty streak that shows up both in how he competes and how he works. The odds are against Turner being as ridiculously great as Garnett has been over his career -- particularly given how raw Turner still is offensively -- but that Garnett is his ceiling tells you all you need to know about what kind of talent we're talking about here.
Incidentally, that's my favorite attribute of Duke-bound Jahlil Okafor, as well. Okafor is much more of a beast on the offensive end than is Turner, but what I love about them both is that they with an edge -- a healthy blend of competitiveness and controlled aggression -- that fuels so many of the best athletes. To be Great, you have to have the talent. But you also have to want it -- to be driven to achieve it. At the highest level, that's what it takes. Myles Turner's got it. And that's why I so badly want him to come play for Texas.
Will Turner Sign With Texas?
Ah, the million dollar question. When asked, Turner has always listed his finalists in alphabetical order: Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio State, Oklahoma State and Texas. Though not on Turner's original list, Larry Brown has brought SMU into the picture, as well.
Turner has already taken official visits to Oklahoma State, Kansas, Ohio State and Duke, and he saved his final official visit for this weekend, when he will be in Austin visiting UT.
That in and of itself is great news, of course, but I'll up the ante for you: my sense from talking to multiple sources both in Dallas (where Turner lives) and Houston (where he trains with John Lucas) is that Turner is a Texas lean right now, and if I had to wager, I'd put my money on the Longhorns landing Turner. That's what makes this weekend's visit so important, but barring something pretty unexpected going wrong, if anything the visit should only serve to solidify our position. I know a lot of recruiting writers are predicting he'll Rock the Chalk, and Kansas fans always think they're going to get the player (and are mostly right), but both my sources and my gut see Texas as the favorite. At least heading into this weekend.
Turner's goal isn't just to play in the NBA, it's to play for 15 years in the NBA, so he's always been plenty willing to go away to Kansas or Duke or some other school farther away from Dallas if that's what seemed best, but all else being equal, the Turners would be delighted to have him closer to home, where it would be easier for his father to attend games. In that light, it's hard to overstate the importance of Rick Barnes' rather incredible turnaround this season. Not only did we have a successful season -- including a win over Kansas -- but we did so in part on the tremendous development of Cam Ridley.
Add it all up, and what do we have? We've got the allure of a winning season by a young team that will be back in full next year; we've got professionals like Kevin Durant and Lamarcus Aldridge telling Myles Turner that Texas is a great place to play for fulfilling his NBA ambitions; we've got the Godfather of Texas basketball (John Lucas) and his son validating Barnes and Texas as an attractive destination for Turner and his goals; and we've got the final word.
By God, I believe that's the return of, yes... positive momentum. We've got a lot going in our favor with Turner, and I'm optimistic that this is a battle we're primed to win.
Or maybe I'm just projecting my desire to add Turner to this already promising group that will be returning next year. I want him for his talent, certainly, but also that drive. That drive to be Great. That drive to win. To be the best. It's the trait that I focused on a year ago in my profile of Isaiah Taylor, and it's why I absolutely consider Turner to have similar potential in terms of impact.
Because watching Myles Turner for the first time, it took me about 30 seconds to conclude, "Do not ever bet against this guy."
I don't plan to.