Although hes been discussed repeatedly on this site for the past two and a half years, even weve had a hard time not being impressed with the progress Evan Turner
has made from his freshman to sophomore year.
With Jamar Butler
, Kosta Koufos
and Othello Hunter
out of the picture, Turner has stepped up his game and established himself as Ohio States clear-cut go-to guy, a leader on the floor and a Mr. Everything-type in the stat-sheet. His per-40 minute pace-adjusted stats (22 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, 5 turnovers, 51% FG) are simply off the charts at this point, even if the sample size is still small just ten games into the season and with a strength of schedule that leaves something to be desired. Still, the Buckeyes are 9-1 with solid wins over Notre Dame, Butler and Miami, which definitely stands for something, despite an embarrassing home loss this weekend to West Virginia.
Turner grew an inch over the summer, and now stands a very imposing 6-7 for a wing player. Hes a clear-cut shooting guard prospect for the NBA, even if hes been forced to play as many as four different positions this season for Ohio State. With second option David Lighty
out for the next 6-12 weeks with a broken bone in his left foot, the Buckeyes will be asking Turner to do even more for them on both ends of the court. Looking at the way Turner has embraced his new role this seasonnever shying away from responsibility on the court and often directing traffic out on the floorthat likely wont be a problem for him.
What stands out the most about Turners play this seasonbesides his terrific versatilityis just how naturally his game appears to translate to the next level. Incredibly smooth and fluid, almost effortless in his movements, and clearly the type that everything comes quite naturally for, Turner does an outstanding job creating offense for himself and others. He loves to come off short curls and flex-type screens to catch and shoot jumpers from 15-17 feet, but hes clearly at his best when operating on the perimeter with the ball in his hands.
Turner does a masterful job in the triple threat position, showing an advanced understanding for utilizing jabs, body fakes, crossovers and hesitation moves to keep his defender off-balance. He is terrific at changing speeds and directions with the ball in his hands, looking perfectly capable of creating shots with either hand, and is absolutely deadly creating separation from his matchup with his picture perfect pull-up jumper.
His demeanor and style of play is eerily reminiscent Brandon Roy
at Washington, even if his skill-level obviously isnt as high at this point. Not quite the incredible passer Roy is, hes still pretty good in his own right, particularly off the dribble. With a rookie point guard running the show for OSU at the moment, theyve turned quite a bit to Turner to help break a full-court press and get them into their offense.
Perimeter shooting appears to be an area that Turner has improved on substantially, even if it might be a bit early still to draw any final conclusions. Hes made six of the eleven 3-pointers hes attempted this season, showing a slow, deliberate release, but very fundamental and consistent mechanics. His free throw shooting is up from 70 to 75% this season as well, and hes drawing over six attempts per game, which is very solid. Continuing to shoot the ball at a good rate from beyond the arc will be huge for his draft stock.
Another area of improvement lies in his post-up game, something that Ohio State has turned to repeatedly taking advantage of mismatch situations. Turner has terrific footwork and a beautiful turnaround jumper, both of which hes utilized repeatedly this season in the paint.
Turnovers have been an issue for Turner from very early in his freshman campaign as a Buckeye, and this season has not been an exception thus far. He was amongst the NCAA leaders in turnovers per possessions last seasoncoughing up the ball on 30% of his possessions, and that has dropped to a still poor 24% this year. The excessive amount of offensive responsibilities hes forced to shoulder on a team that is sorely lacking in shot-creators has a lot to do with this, but he really needs to do a better job not being so careless with the ball. He has a tendency to look out of control with his drives at times, and will suffer the occasional mental lapses trying to make very complicated passes in the half-court.
A place that Turner can definitely afford to make strides in is in his ability to get all the way to the rim and finish strong. He lacks some upper body strength and explosiveness taking contact at the basket, and tends to get a little too cute with his finishes at times. Getting a little bit tougher and learning how to finish better amongst the trees will be a priority for him once he reaches the NBA, in order to compensate for his good, but not amazing athleticism.
Defensively, Turner appears to project very well to the next level, as he has great size and length for his position and also puts a good effort on this end of the floor. Hes active and fundamentally sound and doesnt appear to take any possessions off. His numbers definitely support this claim, as he gets in the passing lanes at an outstanding rate (actually making him the best ball-thief amongst all players in our database), and also rebounds the ball exceptionally well. Ohio States extreme reliance on zone defenses makes him a little bit difficult to properly evaluate at times, and as mentioned the competition level hasnt been great thus far, so well have to continue to watch him as the season moves on.
All in all, there arent many players in college basketball who have improved as much as Evan Turner
, and very few of them share the combination of physical tools and versatile skills that he does as an exceptionally talented 6-7 shooting guard. If he keeps this up, he could very well establish himself as one of the more intriguing wing prospects in this years draft. Only a sophomore, there isnt a huge rush for Turner to jump to the NBA too soon. Considering how weak this draft is shaping up to be, though, he might have a hard time passing up the prospects of being a lottery pickas early as it might be right now to be saying that.