Evan Turner has now gone from the Second City to the City of Brotherly Love. The former Ohio State standout and reigning national player of the year was selected second overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2010 NBA draft.
Clad in a gray suit with a scarlet tie and wearing OSU cufflinks, Turner also showed his Buckeye pride while shaking hands with NBA commissioner David Stern. He is the sixth Buckeye to be selected in the first round within the last four seasons, joining Greg Oden, Michael Conley and Daequan Cook (2007), Kosta Koufos (2008) and B.J. Mullens (2009).
Immediately after the selection, ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas praised Turner’s ability to project to a number of different positions.
“He’s a basketball player rather than just a position,” Bilas said. “He’s a competitor. He’s really skilled. He’s got point guard skills in the body of a guy who’s 6-7.”
After turning down the chance to jump to the NBA as a sophomore, Turner overcame fractured vertebrae in his lower back to become the nation’s top overall player. Initially projected to be out of action for as long as two months, Turner instead beat that timetable by half.
Asked what sort of message he hoped that sent to NBA coaches, Turner said, “I just think it shows I’m relentless, tough and I love playing basketball. I couldn’t stay away from the game too long.”
That message apparently got across. In an interview with ESPN after Turner’s selection was announced, newly hired 76ers coach Doug Collins cited that drive to succeed as one of the reasons his team picked the former Buckeye.
“We were thrilled,” Collins said. “(Coaches) know how important it is to play defense on the perimeter, and Evan is a great defensive player. I love that he’s a great competitor and he’s a winner.”
As was widely expected leading up to the draft, Kentucky point guard John Wall was selected by the Washington Wizards with the first pick in the draft. Last season, the 76ers finished 27-55 and posted the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference. The total marked a 14-loss increase compared to the season before.
Last season, Turner led the Big Ten in both scoring and rebounding with averages of 20.4 and 9.4, respectively. After playing on the wing and then moving to power forward as a sophomore, Turner manned the point for the Buckeyes as a junior.
Bilas said that position could be in Turner’s future.
“He can play some point in the NBA,” the analyst said. “He’s got the ability to find seams and he uses his strength to get into those seams. He’s a very good passer and just a playmaker on the floor. He can find open people and make plays.
“He’s improved every year that he’s been in college.”
Now the task will be to do that as a professional.