One year ago, Evan Turner was just one of six new faces in Ohio State’s media guide.
Now, he has been named one of the best five players in the entire Big Ten. In a live announcement aired on the Big Ten Network, the sophomore swingman was announced as a unanimous pick for first-team All-Big Ten honors.
He did not come home with the league’s most valuable player award, which went to Michigan State’s Kalin Lucas instead. One day before the winners were announced, OSU’s Jon Diebler did some stumping for his teammate.
“I think the little things that he does on the court are what separates him from everybody else in the conference,” Diebler said. “He’s our anchor and he makes plays for us when we need him. He’s got my vote.”
Turner twice earned Big Ten player of the week honors this season and finished as his team’s leader in points per game (16.8), rebounds per game (6.9), assists (112) and steals (50) while tying with Diebler for the most minutes played (1,044 – 36.0 per contest).
In the conference, Turner finished third in scoring, fourth in steals, fifth in rebounding, seventh in field-goal percentage and eighth in assists.
Lucas was asked who he would pick for the honor aside from himself among players who are not his teammates. He picked Turner.
“I probably would have had to give it to Turner,” he said. “He’s long, he can score, can rebound. He’s a great player.”
Lucas' selection created a disagreement between the show's three hosts. Former Buckeye Jimmy Jackson agreed with the pick, but analysts Tim Doyle and Dave Revsine argued for Turner.
“I think he’s not on the team this year they win five games in the conference,” Doyle said. “He’s the best one-on-one player. He led his team in assists. He does it all. He’s the type of guy who can single-handedly win a game. You take him off Ohio State I think he meant the most to his individual team.”
Lucas' stats were less impressive than Turner's (14.8 points per game, 2.2 rebounds per game, 138 assists) but his overall contribution to a winning team proved to be the difference in Jackson's eyes.
“I think Evan is the most valuable player to his team but right now Kalin Lucas won basketball games,” Jackson said. “You need a catalyst and he was the catalyst who helped Michigan State win.”
That line of thought was backed up by Ohio State head coach Thad Matta, who said that most coaches tend to vote for the best player on the best team rather than the best overall player.
“It’s a lot like a couple years ago when Terence (Dials) won it,” he said. “We were the best team in the league and Terence was the best player on our team. I think there’s probably a lot of validity to that.”
Not reflected on the stat sheet is the fact that Turner has been tasked with taking on bigger and bigger roles as the season has progressed. When junior forward David Lighty was lost for the season after the seventh game, it was Turner who slid to his vacated power forward spot.
Then, as the Buckeyes struggled to get production from their point guards down the stretch, he assumed some of those duties as well. Through it all, he emerged as the go-to player for an OSU team that appears headed back to the NCAA Tournament after a one-year absence.
“It’s tough, but I think he’s had a tremendous run through it, I really do,” Matta said. “He’s come a long way. I’ve said this all along about Evan, he’s a hard worker, he’s a very competitive individual and he wants Ohio State to win.”
As a freshman, Turner improved as the season went on and wound up finishing fourth on the team with an average of 8.7 points per game. He closed the year having scored 11 or more points in each of his last three games including a 20-point performance in the NIT championship game against Massachusetts.
This year, he scored less than 10 points in just three of 29 games.
He has been named the lone Big Ten finalist for the Oscar Robinson Trophy and has been named to the NABC Division I, District 7 all-district team.
Turner also earned unanimous first-team all-conference honors. He was the only Buckeye to make any of the league's three all-conference teams.
Freshman B.J. Mullens brought home sixth man of the year honors after averaging 9.1 points and 4.8 points per game off the bench. In 29 games, he earned two starts in non-conference play.
“It’s a great honor to get this award,” he said on the broadcast. “I want to give credit to my teammates and my coaches for letting me come off the bench.”
In addition, classmate William Buford was named the Big Ten’s freshman of the year.
“I was real surprised but I really wasn’t because my coaches have been working me real hard,” he said. “It’s a big honor to be in this category. It’s a real big honor.”
In addition, Diebler earned honorable mention all-conference honors.
Check back later for more.