A missed shot is not how Evan Turner wants his Ohio State career to end.
After the sophomore’s last-second desperation jumper against Siena in the NCAA Tournament rimmed out and the 2008-09 season came to a close for the Buckeyes, Turner told reporters that he loved Ohio State and would be returning for his junior year.
Now, after talking things over with his mother, Iris James, and exploring his options, the first-team all-Big Ten swingman has decided that he will be returning to the Buckeyes for his junior season.
“Evan said he will be coming back to Ohio State,” James told BuckeyeSports.com. “You can write that.”
On a team devoid of seniors, Turner finished the season as the team’s go-to player in nearly every aspect of the game. He led the Buckeyes in scoring average (17.3 points), rebounding average (7.1), assists (131) and steals (58) while helping lead his team back to the NCAA Tournament after a one-year absence.
Standing in the cramped OSU locker room after the loss to Siena, Turner spoke of his future and said he would be returning for at least another year because he felt he had unfinished business to take care of. Turner said he would likely talk to his mother about the decision but added that he would have to make the best decision for himself.
“I always had a thought in my head that I would leave college with a Big Ten championship, an NCAA championship, stuff like that,” Turner said one day prior to the game. “The pros, that’s a lifestyle. It can grant you all your material hopes and dreams. I like college right now and I like my teammates. I like the prospects of coming back.”
With no seniors on the roster, the Buckeyes have the potential to return their entire roster from this year’s team. In addition to Turner, freshmen B.J. Mullens and William Buford had been mentioned throughout the season as potential candidates to leave school early and head to the NBA.
Mullens appears the most likely to go, although no official word has been issued yet. If he leaves, he would join Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Daequan Cook and Kosta Koufos as freshman to depart from OSU in the past three seasons.
After the Siena game, Matta said he would speak with Turner about his future – as he does for all his players – and offer him the best advice he could.
“I think that Evan has a tremendous future, not only at Ohio State but someday (in the NBA),” he said. “When that comes there’s areas he’s got to keep growing at but we’ve got to take a look at it for him. We always do what’s best for our guys.”
ESPN.com lists Turner as the potential No. 16 player in the 2009 NBA Draft and pegs him as a mid-to-late first-round pick.