The nation’s top college basketball player is ready to try his talents at the next level. At a 4 p.m. press conference in the auxiliary gym at Value City Arena, Ohio State junior point guard Evan Turner announced that he will forgo his senior year and enter the NBA draft.
The 6-7, 210-pound Turner considered heading to the NBA after his sophomore season but opted to return, saying he wanted to be remembered for more than simply being a player who passed through OSU on his way to the league. After a switch to point guard during the summer, Turner blossomed in his new role and helped the Buckeyes capture a share of the Big Ten championship and the league’s tournament title as well.
He is widely projected as one of the top three picks in this year’s draft.
Turner departs as one of the most decorated players in program history. Sunday, he was brought home the biggest individual award of them all when he received the Naismith Trophy. The honor is given annually to the nation’s top player, and Turner is the first Buckeye to bring it home.
That came in addition to being named the Big Ten’s most valuable player, the Sporting News player of the year and a first-team All-American. In all, he received five national player of the year honors. He is also one of five finalists for the John R. Wooden Award, which will be given out Friday in Los Angeles.
As a junior, the Chicago native led the Big Ten in scoring (20.4 points per game) and rebounding (9.2) and also led his team with averages of 5.9 and 2.0 steals per contest despite missing six games after suffering two broken vertebrae in his back following a missed dunk attempt Dec. 5 against Eastern Michigan. He sits 15th on the school’s all-time scoring list and is the only Buckeye to have recorded 1,000 career points, 500 career rebounds, 400 career assists and 150 career steals.
Turner’s career ended with two missed three-point attempts against Tennessee in the Sweet 16 as the Buckeyes were knocked out of the NCAA Tournament. After the game, he was noncommittal on his future plans but said it would be difficult to leave following such a loss.
While watching future Buckeyes Jared Sullinger and DeShaun Thomas take part in the McDonald’s All-American Game on March 31 at Value City Arena, Turner said he had not come up with a decision and added that it had not been weighing heavily on his mind.
After the loss to the Volunteers, head coach Thad Matta said he would not talk Turner out of leaving early. Rather, the coach said he would encourage Turner to make the best decision for himself and his family.
Turner becomes the sixth Buckeye in four years to leave OSU early for the NBA, but he is the first not to head out following his freshman season. He joins a list that includes Greg Oden, Michael Conley and Daequan Cook (2007), Kosta Koufos (2008) and B.J. Mullens (2009).
Check back later with BuckeyeSports.com for more coverage of Turner’s press conference.