To hear Texas Longhorns head coach Rick Barnes tell it, his freshman phenom forward Myles Turner was a bundle of nerves before his first college game against the North Dakota State Bison on Friday night at the Erwin Center.
On a day when the school gave out Turner's signature bucket hats to the first 1,000 students that showed up, Turner said that his teammates helped keep him amped up during the week, but helped him calm down before the game, when he was teased by his head coach and teammates about his pre-game nervousness.
Suffice it to say that the nerves weren't apparent once he stepped on the court.
Here's PB on Turner's start:
On Texas' first possession after Myles Turner checked in at the 16:05 mark, the freshman took a difficult turnaround jumper from the baseline for his first ever collegiate shot... and nailed it. Just two possessions later, Turner let it rip from 17 feet near the top of the key... and nailed it. And then on the very next possession, Turner did his best Dirk Nowitzki impression, taking a step-back fadeaway from about 13 feet... and effing nailed that, too. What a hell of a way to start your collegiate career.
The Nowitzki impersonation was especially impressive, but so was his recognition on the second shot -- Turner caught the ball, then took a jab step to size up his defender. Seeing that the defender wasn't in position to contest the shot, he rose and fired.
Hand down, man down! -- Brendan Maloney (USA TODAY Sports)
The six quick points from Turner forced a timeout from the Bison and induced some emotion from the talented freshman.
"That was huge," he said. "That was a huge confidence boost right there. The crowd was into the game at that point, and it gave us a lot of momentum."
Turner's humility and work ethic have already endeared him to his teammates.
"The best part of the way he started the game was the way his teammates responded," said Barnes. "After he hit the third one and they called timeout and he came to the bench, you could sense the excitement for him from his teammates. He's come in and he's worked. He hasn't done anything besides try to be a part of it."
Despite the early flurry, a resounding dunk on a nicely executed pick and roll play may have been the most exciting of the first half for Turner.
However, there are some areas for improvement for Turner -- Barnes said that he needs to get better on the defensive end and Turner concurred.
"There is still a lot to work on," Turner said. "I led the team in turnovers, I need to get on the boards better and block some shots. More than anything, I have a lot to work on going forward."
Even with the criticism on the defensive performance for Turner, he made one of the best defensive plays of the game for the Longhorns to start a fast break that included a highlight-reel behind-the-back pass from sophomore point guard Isaiah Taylor to junior center Cameron Ridley.
it may take some time to achieve consistency on that end of the court. Until then, Turner will continue to get buckets with his smooth stroke and ability to finish around the rim. And he will continue to work hard to address his deficiencies.
Welcome to the Myles Turner era, y'all. This is gonna be fun.