Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Handicapping the race for Myles Turner
By Jeff Goodman
No. 10 recruit Myles Turner is down to eight finalists: Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma State, Duke, Kentucky, Arizona, Louisville and Ohio State.
Myles Turner (Bedford, Texas/Euless Trinity) was unknown and anonymous just a few months ago, heading into the April recruiting period. A broken ankle kept him off the summer circuit last season and kept him off the radar for most of the elite college programs.
More college basketball recruiting news is available at ESPN RecruitingNation's On The Trail blog.
But it has all changed in a hurry for the 6-foot-11, 225-pound Texan, who has made an Anthony Davis-esque rise up the rankings, elevating himself from outside the ESPN 100 to No. 10 overall in the Class of 2014 to now potentially challenging fellow big men Jahlil Okafor (Chicago/Whitney Young) and Cliff Alexander (Chicago/Curie) for the No. 1 spot. While Okafor is polished and skilled, no one in the 2014 class may have as much upside as Turner.
Turner recently cut his college list to eight and has set just one official visit thus far, to Lawrence, Kan., for the Jayhawks’ Midnight Madness on Oct. 4. Turner’s father, David, told ESPN.com that the family has also already set up in-home visits with Texas and Kentucky.
Here’s handicapping the race for Turner, ranking his finalists from 1-8 after talking to those involved in the recruitment:
1. Kansas: The Jayhawks are the perceived leaders for a variety of reasons. First of all, it’s Kansas and Bill Self has developed a well-earned reputation with big men. KU will lose Tarik Black after this season and could very well also watch raw but talented freshman center Joel Embiid depart after just one year in Lawrence. At Kansas, Turner could play for an elite-level program and wouldn’t have to travel all that far to do so. There’s also a strong connection between Turner’s trainer, who worked with former Jayhawks big man Darrell Arthur, and the KU program. Just about everyone I’ve spoken to feels as though KU is currently in the driver’s seat.
2. Texas: The Longhorns are the local pick, the in-state team and also the program that has prioritized Turner more than anyone else. Head coach Rick Barnes was front and center for nearly every single one of Turner’s games in July, and the big man would be the cornerstone to turn the Longhorns back into national contenders. He’d become a savior of sorts in Austin and the face of the program. The fact that his favorite player is former UT star Kevin Durant won’t hurt the Longhorns’ chances, either.
3. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys were on Turner as early as just about anyone, and Travis Ford has done well in the Dallas area lately by snagging both Marcus Smart and Le'Bryan Nash from the Metroplex. Smart’s success certainly helps Oklahoma State’s chances. Turner attended a game in Stillwater last season and can come right in and take Smart’s spot as The Guy at OSU. If proximity to home is a factor, which many believe to be the case, then the Cowboys will be in the equation until the end.
4. Duke: The Blue Devils came into the fray on the late end, but they have quickly become a player in the Turner Sweepstakes. It could, however, ultimately come down to whether Mike Krzyzewski gets the package deal of Okafor and No. 1 point guard Tyus Jones. If Coach K strikes out with Okafor, who has long been the program’s top interior target, then Turner could be a legit candidate to land in Durham.
5. Kentucky: You can obviously never, ever discount the chances of John Calipari landing an elite player. However, the Wildcats appear to be fighting from behind in this one. In all likelihood, they will have a talented big man returning to Lexington from this year’s squad (likely freshman center Dakari Johnson), and Kentucky also has another highly regarded power forward in the fold with freshman Marcus Lee.
6. Arizona: The Wildcats are in the mix but aren’t regarded as one of the true contenders at this point. Sean Miller has done a terrific job in recruiting, and new assistant and former UA star Damon Stoudamire has helped in the Turner recruitment. It’s widely assumed that freshman Aaron Gordon will be a one-and-done guy, but there are still enough big bodies in Tucson that could scare Turner away.
7. Louisville: Rick Pitino and the Cards have plenty of momentum these days, and they need quality big men. But this one seems like a stretch. In fact, few think Louisville has any shot of getting this one done. The Cardinals are tossing their hat in the ring with several elite post prospects in the 2014 class: Turner, Alexander and Goodluck Okonoboh (Boston/Wilbraham & Monson).
8. Ohio State: The Buckeyes certainly have a major need for a talented big man, but no one involved with the recruitment seems to feel Thad Matta has much of a shot at reeling in Turner to Columbus. Matta has a track record of landing heralded big men (Greg Oden, Jared Sullinger, B.J. Mullens, Kosta Koufos), but those were all Midwest guys who decided to stay close to home.
Terps return from Bahamas
Mark Turgeon wasn’t all that concerned about the games. It was primarily about the 10 practices leading up to last week’s three-game trip to the Bahamas.
Well, and the fact that he wouldn’t get on the Leap of Faith water slide down at the Atlantis resort.
“I was scared,” Turgeon admitted.
Turgeon said the Alex Len-less Terps never watched film on the trip and just showed up for the games. Big man Shaquille Cleare didn’t play or practice leading up to the games because of a back injury.
“He missed the last five weeks of the summer, including the trip,” Turgeon said. “It was tough for him because he looks good. He’s a physical specimen. He was down about 20 pounds to 260. He’s going to be fine, but we wanted to be safe and make sure we didn’t rush him back.”
Here are a few other notes from Turgeon following Maryland’s trip to the Bahamas:
• What Turgeon learned: “We’re much more mature than we were last year. We practiced harder and prepared harder than any time last year. We’re more mature, but I’m not saying we’re all the way there. The trip also showed me we have a long way to go. Last year, Alex affected a lot of shots and helped us.”
• Who stood out: “Jake [Layman] did some really nice things. Roddy Peters stuck out to me. He’s good. Sometimes he still thinks he’s in high school and has to take over, but he was impressive.”
• Biggest concern: “We weren’t very good defensively, but we didn’t have Shaq and we were in foul trouble much of the time.”
• Turgeon said Dez Wells, who sat out the second game of the trip because of a minor knee injury, has established himself as the leader of the team.
• Combo guard Seth Allen enters the season as the starting point guard, but he’ll be pushed by Peters, and Turgeon said the duo can and will play together in the backcourt at times. “Roddy can guard bigger guys and run the team and Seth can move off the ball and score,” Turgeon said.
• Turgeon is confident the Terps will be able to score easier despite losing Len. Maryland has upgraded the point guard position and also has added Smotrycz, who is a difficult matchup because of his ability to step out and make shots. Also, guys such as Layman, Cleare, Allen and Wells should make jumps after a year in the program.