Posted Jun 21 2010 10:08AM
Even when he was 3 years old, Evan Turner was like any other kid brother.
"I remember them showing us a video of a Fisher Price rim," Turner recalled during the Chicago pre-Draft camp in late May. "My brother, Darius, was playing on it. I was, like, crawling by it. But whatever my brother did, I did. I just started playing from there. And when I was five, my older brother Richard, he was outside dribbling, so I came outside with him. He was like 'just keep dribbling, because you're going to be tall. You're going to need it.' "
Heeding his siblings' advice is about to pay off for Turner, the consensus top shooting guard in this Thursday's Draft at Madison Square Garden and thought by many to be the most talented player overall, even more so than Kentucky point guard John Wall, who is expected to go first to Washington. But Turner will go second at best, to Philadelphia, and if the 76ers decide to go big, New Jersey will happily scarf up the Wooden Award-winning Turner third.
The 21-year-old led the Buckeyes to the Big 10 conference tournament title and a Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA tournament, winning just about every individual player honor in college basketball as a consensus all-American.
"He's a throwbck as far as what kind of kid he is," said a college head coach who saw Turner in action last season. "You know how guys go away to train before the Draft. He told all his agents that he's staying at Ohio State to work on his game. He has everything he needs at Ohio State. He loves his college coach and he loves his university and his work ethic is as good as anybody I've seen ... anything he doesn't have he makes up for with his ball skills and toughness."
Turner puts many pro scouts in mind of Brandon Roy, the All-Star guard in Portland who. He, like Turner, was a jack of all trades, good at everything if not great at anything when he came out of college, and who thinks the game as much as he plays it. Turner's all-around skill set -- he played point guard for most of the season for the Buckeyes -- size and quiet confidence made his decision to leave Ohio State after his junior season easy, and the pros aren't worried at all about a fall that broke two bones in Turner's back early last season and caused him to miss a month of play.
"I'm trying to be one of the best ever," Turner said. "I've set goals. Lil' Wayne has a lyric that goes 'I don't have a spine, I don't fantasize/I mastermind, then go after mine.' You're in charge of your own life."
After Turner, there's no consensus as to who's next. Avery Bradley, the small two guard from Texas, has many supporters who love his defense -- "as good an on the ball defender as I've seen," said a college coach who played against the Longhorns last season -- but his size and his inconsistent shot do raise some doubts. Converting him to point guard is problematic as well; he never played the position in high school or at Texas, compared to, say, Russell Westbrook, who played at least a few games at the point at UCLA when Darren Collison was injured.
And "Texas was looking for a point guard," a Pacific Division scout says, "so that should tell you something."
Says another Pacific personnel man of Bradley: "He doesn't handle it well enough to get his shot like Ben (Gordon) did. He's great in a game when you're going up and down, but In the playoffs if you play slow it would be a problem. He's unproven as a guy who can get his shot in the halfcourt. He's got great speed and quickness, though, and he's a great on the ball defender."
James Anderson, the Big 12's Player of the Year, has a lot of supporters who like his defense, aggressiveness and mental toughness by a hair over Xavier Henry, who has the prototypical look of a two guard and may have more pro potential, but may not have the overall game to play the spot consistently. Still, his huge wingspan for a two guard will make him hard to pass up for late Lottery teams. Both are highly regarded in terms of character.
"He reminds me of what Quentin Richardson has become -- a spot-up shooter," says a scout. "Quentin in his day back in college would take his big butt inside. Henry has value as a shooter but I'm not sure he's never going to be more than that. Defensively, he tries, but in the NBA -- with those athletes -- it's going to be hard. With his strength and lack of quickness he's probably better as a three."
Dominique Jones is generally viewed as slightly below Anderson and Henry in terms of pro potential, but those that like him, like him a lot -- "he can defintely put the ball in the basket," says a Northwest Division scout. One college coach whose team played Jones' South Florida squad volunteered the name Andrew Toney in comparison to the 6-foot-5 Jones, who led the Bulls to their first Big East tournament victory this season and helped South Florida to a 20-win season (including wins over Georgetown and Pittsburgh).
"He can help a team win games," said another college coach that played South Florida. "He can make a shot, he can defend. If he gets his shoulder even with you, you won't get him off the line. He's a tough kid. He won't back down. Those kind of kids figure out how to be a rotation guy. He can play two positions. He can guard twos and maybe some threes. He doesn't have a dominant skill; his dominant skill is his toughness."
Jones is probably not going to be a Lottery team pick, but he has raised his Draft stock signficantly.
"When you're losing, people don't really respect losing," Jones said after a recent workout. "They go 'if this guy's so good, why can't he win?' I understood that. I knew that I had to win games. I had to get my team on a level that we could win games and play with anybody for me to get the self-recognition."
Xavier's Jordan Crawford has also been rising on Draft boards, with the size and ability to play both guard spots -- "he played the point at Indiana his freshman year with Eric Gordon and I could definitely see him being a primary ballhandler," said a Pacific Division birddog. "He's really talented. Very confident kid, too. You're not going to have to worry about him losing confidence in his abilities."
Elliot Williams, who transfered to Memphis from Duke, has raised questions by skipping several workouts before the Draft, leading teams to believe he's been made some sort of promise by a Lottery team.
"I've heard he is hurt," an Atlantic Division personnel man said early last week. "That's just a mystery to me ... he's at a Henry level (talent-wise), [Eric] Bledsoe and those type guards, Avery Bradley. He's right there with them talent-wise. This kid is pretty good. He's got quick feet, long arms, will be able to defend. He loves to play basketball. He's a gym rat. Good kid. As much as we rate him, there's only so much you can risk with a guy that's hurt in the Draft."
Said a college coach that played against Memphis last season: "with him, it goes to show how good Duke is, because they can lose a kid like him and win the national championship. He has great size, great ball skills, can shoot it. Doesn't have a great body right now but can develop it. I was shocked how good he was offensively. I thought at Duke he was just a role player and facilitator. But he has really good ball skills. Can really score it and can shoot it. His quickness is very good. I really don't see a weakness in his game other than the fact that no one really has a good feel for him, because at Duke he didn't play for those guys until the end of the year."
Lance Stevenson was a one-and-done at Cincinnati with several off-court issues as a high schooler who nonetheless has the kind of body that could hold up during the rigors of pro play, but who had an up-and-down season for the Bearcats. Jerome Dyson has draftable talent as a scorer, but will likely earn his NBA bones as a defender like Wes Matthews and Tony Allen, two players whose names came up in comparison with him. Matt Bouldin has the Gonzaga pedigree -- smart, good passer, deceptive athlete -- who is going to struggle keeping players in front of him.
"He doesn't have a dominant skilll," says a college coach who played Gonzaga last season. "He is not a good defender. Not an ass-kicker. But he's not a kid that's not gonna back down. He couldn't take over a game at our (college) level. He doesn't do anything great in college. He does a lot of things good. But the only way he's gonna get open is a ball screen."
But Bouldin is determined to prove that he can play. He's spent several offseason hours in Spokane working out both with Jazz guard Deron Williams and with Zags (and Jazz) alum John Stockton, picking up tips on how to play the point, which he'll probably have to do in order to stick with an NBA team. That's a pretty good duo from which to learn.
"[David Stockton] is a walk-on at our school," Bouldin said of Stockton. "[John Stockton] is around all the time. He's got some amazing stories. And he can still play. The guy's amazing. He's in the gym ripping off 50 pullups at a time. He's a freak. He's the smartest, best point guard ever. So any little thing you can get from him really helps.
"Off the court, he composes himself really well. He's always around. He's always offered to help. He's the kind of guy you want on your team ... a lot of (the transiton to the pros) is about pace. I think college guys really good too fast most of the time. They're always sped up. That's one thing Stockton's always kind of pressed on me, go fast when you have to."
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