In 2011, Turner left with a year of eligibility remaining and freshman Jared Sullinger entered, but the Buckeyes were just as good. Ohio State was the No. 1 overall seed in the Big Dance and was picked by many to win it all before falling to Kentucky in a Sweet 16 upset.
Looking back, Sullinger wouldn’t have minded if the two Buckeye stars – perhaps the two biggest names to come through Ohio State in the past few years – had suited up together.
“We would have been national champions for sure,” Sullinger told BuckeyeSports.com
Now, the two will get the chance to chase a ring together, but it will be at the next level. After starting his career with the Philadelphia 76ers and then ending last season with the Indiana Pacers, Turner has signed a free agent contract with the Boston Celtics. He’ll join Sullinger, a third-year pro, in Beantown as the famous green and white jerseys of the 17-time NBA champs take on more of a scarlet and gray tint this fall.
“Just to think about how he left a year before I came, I could have been a freshmen when he was a senior,” Sullinger said. “We always talked about it, and now the dream came to reality and we’re playing with each other.”
The two will hope to help Boston rebound from missing the playoffs last season under first-year head coach Brad Stevens. With star point guard Rajon Rondo injured, the Celtics finished 25-57 in the first year after jettisoning longtime stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in a bid to become younger and retool the roster.
Sullinger started to establish himself as an NBA player, though. A year after missing much of his rookie season while dealing with a back issue, The center/forward played in 74 games and was third on the team with 13.3 points per game while adding 8.1 rebounds per contest.
“I’m doing great,” Sullinger said. “Everything is moving forward. It’s a slow process but I’m moving forward. (I feel like I established myself) a little bit, but I have to do some more.”
Turner, meanwhile, will be looking to finally have a breakout campaign after being taken second overall in the 2010 draft. The 6-7 swingman averaged 7.2 points as a rookie and 9.4 in 2011-12 before getting into double digits with 13.3 per game in 2012-13. Last year, he was averaging 17.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game and had started all 54 games with the Sixers before he was traded to the Indiana Pacers.
Turner averaged 7.1 points in 27 contests as a bench player with Indiana the rest of the season but was just a bit player in the playoffs as the team lost in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat.
“He’s a special type of player,” Sullinger said. “He brings versatility. He can pass, he can handle, he can play off the pick and roll. He can play multiple positions. He’s a diverse player.”