Arizona basketball: Turner is already virtually in NBA

2011-10-22T00:00:00Z 2014-07-24T10:18:44Z Arizona basketball: Turner is already virtually in NBABruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
October 22, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Before playing his first game for the Arizona Wildcats, and even before he could debut in today's Red-Blue Game, Josiah Turner was alerted via Twitter about a certain image of himself.

It's one from the NBA 2K12 video game, in which Turner is featured as one of the top NBA draft prospects.

For next June.

That's right, with the kind of instantaneous sports focus you find online today, it's possible to just about skip over Turner's college career. The point guard is projected as the No. 18 draft pick next June by NBADraft.net, and the No. 11 pick in 2013 by Draft Express.

If he's going to spend a season or two with the Wildcats, you might hardly know it - unless you listen to Turner himself.

"I just let it fly by me," Turner said of the early NBA talk. "I'm not there till I make it there."

At Arizona's preseason media day last week, Turner spoke softly but confidently about the attention he faces as an NBA prospect and the pressure of being a highly touted player at the school's marquee position.

"It is exciting," Turner said. "It puts a lot of pressure on me, a little bit, but I just want to deal with it. That was one of the reasons I came here."

Bottom line: He's used to pressure.

"After my junior year at first I started to get tired of it," Turner said. "But I figured if I'm a basketball player, I signed up for it so I've gotta do everything with it."

The attention intensified last season when, after starring for Sacramento (Calif.) High School in his hometown, Turner transferred in midseason to the Quality Education Academy in North Carolina.

Turner was removed from the team at Sac High for "violating athletic rules and regulations," according to what coach Derek Swafford told the Sacramento Bee. The Bee also wrote that Turner's mother clashed with Swafford over playing time and that Swafford refused to play Turner in the fourth quarter of blowout wins.

Later in the season, Turner was left off the McDonald's All-American rosters, even though his Top 15 ranking suggested he would make it. It is unknown if the omission had anything to do with his dampened statistics at Sac High or the transfer to QEA.

"I think I would have" made the McDonald's game, Turner said. "I think it was my coach at the last school who messed it up. But everything happens for a reason."

Turner said the cross-country move and coaching by QEA's Isaac Pitts "made me stronger and turned me into a real man."

The maturity will come in handy this season. Turner, who turned 19 in July, is expected to start at point guard or at least play heavy minutes along with sophomore Jordin Mayes.

His skills are not in doubt. UA coach Sean Miller said Turner is a "fun guy to play with" because of his pass-first mentality, while teammates have praised his decision-making and ability to finish.

"He's a great player all around," senior guard Kyle Fogg said. "He's one of the fastest I've seen with the ball, and just a tremendous passer. What you're going to see out of Josiah is a great feel for the game. He just does a great job of getting everybody open shots and making everybody look good."

Rim shots

• UA announced it will stream today's pregame festivities and scrimmage live for free on its website, arizonawildcats.com, starting at 1:45 p.m.

• Doors to the scrimmage are scheduled to open at 12:30 p.m., with festivities beginning at 1:45. Before the game, a dunk contest will be held and Derrick Williams and Chase Budinger will be inducted into the McKale Ring of Honor. At halftime, Jason Terry will be honored for winning the 2011 NBA title with the Dallas Mavericks.

Today

• What: Red-Blue Game

• When: 2 p.m.

• Tickets: Sold out

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