Denton: Jeff Turner Named New TV Analyst
By John Denton
July 1, 2013
ORLANDO – Because he played in the NBA for 10 seasons over two stints, Jeff Turner can closely identify with what professional basketball players are thinking and going through during games.
And because he was a state championship-winning head basketball coach at the high school level for the past eight seasons, Turner also understands the rigors of making decisions along the sidelines as a coach.
Both perspectives should help Turner greatly in his new job as FOX Sports Florida’s lead analyst for their coverage of the Orlando Magic.
Turner, who begins his new role on Sept. 1, replaces Matt Guokas, who was not retained following last season. Turner, a sweet-shooting power forward, played for the Magic from 1989-96 and then worked for the organization as a radio color analyst from 1996-2005. Turner spent the past two years as a studio host for Magic games and he filled in sporadically for Guokas as an analyst. Now, he’ll be back along the sidelines analyzing games on a full-time basis.
``I am really excited. I was out of it for so long after I left the radio job other than a few games when I filled in for Matty (Gukoas) and it was a lot of fun. I just really enjoyed working with (play-by-play announcer) David (Steele),’’ Turner said. ``I just thought this would be something fun to do again.’’
Turner spent the past eight seasons working at Orlando’s Lake Highland Prep where he led the boys basketball team to a 151-72 record. Turner’s teams finished as the state runner-up in 2011-12 and won the Class 4A state title in 2013 with a 67-50 defeat of Boca Raton St. Andrew’s. One of Turner’s best players, Joel Berry, became Florida’s first Mr. Basketball as a sophomore and recently committed to play for the University of North Carolina.
Turner said the work as a prep coach gives him a new perspective on the pressures a coach must endure during games. He hopes that his experience along the sidelines will help him convey some of the thoughts of a coach when he’s broadcasting Magic games next season.
``I think my whole experience will help,’’ he said. ``I still look at things from the eyes of a former player. But at the same time, over the last eight years, I have a new respect for the guy on the bench making the decisions. Even though it was high school coaching, it gives me a different perspective and hopefully it will help me be a better broadcaster as well.’’
Turner said that any rustiness that he might have had as an analyst last season was eased by working with Steele, the play-by play voice of the Magic since the franchise’s inception in 1989. Steele and Turner worked together on radio for two seasons from 1996-98, and Steele thinks that Magic fans will quickly identify with Turner’s basketball smarts and humor.
``We’ve already worked together, so we have that familiarity on and off the air,’’ Steele said. ``I would think Jeff having coached the past eight years would add another dimension to his understanding of the other side of (basketball). He’s coached, played and been a broadcaster, so he’s done all three aspects and I think he’ll do a great job.’’
Turner said that it’s an exciting time to be affiliated with the Magic again because of the collection of young talent that the team has stockpiled after trading away all-star center Dwight Howard last August. Turner said that with a promising core of Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, Maurice Harkless, Andrew Nicholson and rookie Victor Oladipo that the Magic have a chance to make major strides over the next couple of seasons. ``I’m really excited about the future of this team,’’ he added. ``This is kind of a different way to build a team here. After we lost Shaq (O’Neal in 1996), we’ve kind of rebuilt through free agency. (Former Magic GM) John (Gabriel) put us on that path and then (former GM) Otis (Smith) continued it after that.
``Really, this is a whole new approach going young. I just think it’s going to be exciting watching our young guys make mistakes and grow. They’re going to lose games, but it’s going to be fun for all of us watch this group grow,’’ he continued. ``I think we’ve got some guys who are going to turn into some quality players. … All indications now are that (Magic GM) Rob Hennigan and his guys have us on that path toward an upward swing. I really think these next couple of years are going to be very exciting.’’
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