Ohio State's Evan Turner, one of 12 players selected to represent the United States in the World University Games in Serbia, sits last in scoring average as the Americans prepare for a Tuesday showdown with Serbia.
With one start under his belt in three games, Turner is averaging 3.7 points per game – a far cry from his average of 17.3 points per game as a sophomore playing for the Buckeyes.
But while the points have not come in bunches for Turner, the swingman has found other ways to be involved on the court. Turner leads Team USA with 12 assists, having dished out five in each of the team's last two games. Perhaps most importantly to OSU fans who saw him turn the ball over 117 times last season, Turner has just three turnovers – an assist-to-turnover ration of 4.0.
Turner is also averaging 16.0 minutes of playing time per game on a roster where the top minute-getter averages 20.3 and the player seeing the least amount of time is averaging 12.0 minutes. He has missed his lone three-point attempt.
He has also asserted himself on the glass, grabbing a team-high nine rebounds in a 113-76 victory against South Korea on the Fourth of July. His average of 6.0 boards per game ranks him third-best on the team.
Before he headed off for tryouts, Turner said OSU women's basketball center Jantel Lavender advised him to do the little things aside from scoring to help benefit his new team.
"She's played with the USA team for the past couple of years and she said to do the little things like rebound and play defense and just play tough and play hard and everything should be all right," Turner said. "That's what I'm going to do: just come in and play my game, do what I've been doing ever since I started playing basketball."
The Americans also played three exhibition games, and Turner has his most prolific night June 28 in his team's lone loss – a 98-82 defeat at the hands of Serbia. Turner went 6 for 7 from the floor for a team-high 18 points while coming off the bench. His six rebounds also represented a team high.
"Obviously, you have to keep getting better, and we are motivated to keep getting better," Turner said after the game. "We have to learn to play through adversity. In certain situations, we have to make the most out of every play."
However, Turner could not duplicate that personal success in the team's 67-63 victory against Russia one day later. The Chicago native missed all six of his shot attempts but grabbed eight rebounds while playing a tournament-high 25 minutes. It also marked his first start of the tournament.
In today's game against the home country, the top seed in Group I is at stake heading into the medal quarterfinals in a complicated tournament format.
The 26 teams in the tournament were initially divided into eight groups, labeled Groups A-H. Playing in Group H, the United States defeated Finland and South Korea for the right to advance to the second round, where they were re-seeded with the top two teams from Group A and the second-place team from Group H.
A win against the Serbians (3 p.m., EDT) would push Team USA's record to 4-0 in the tournament.
Win or lose, the Americans are assured of three more games: a medal quarterfinal game July 9, a semifinal game July 10 and a final game July 11.
"You live in America (and) you're representing one of the most powerful countries in the world," Turner told local reporters before he headed to tryouts. "I think it's tight they asked me to do it. A lot of people have died for this country. I'm just excited and glad to be able to be a part of something and represent the United States of America."