Big men frequently require patience. That's not always the case, of course, as Scout.com's No. 1 senior — Jahlil Okafor — attests. But many centers need more time to grow into their bodies and cultivate the skills they'll utilize the remainder of their careers.
Myles Turner fits that description to a tee. The slender Texan generated buzz as a junior and carried that into last spring's evaluation period, where he exploded onto the scene nationally.
At the Jayhawk Invitational with Texas Select in April, 2013, he established himself as the premier player at the event and attracted hordes of college coaches as a result. Prior to June, even, he had drawn offers from Arizona, Auburn, Baylor, Houston, Kansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, SMU, USC, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA, UNLV and Vanderbilt.
He kept getting better. Turner didn't have a ranking at all in the spring, but after the NBPA Top 100 Camp last June, he vaulted all the way into the top 10. He competed at the LeBron James Skills Academy in early July, and prior to suffering from chronic lower body pain he performed well against a sensational crop of frontcourt prospects in attendance.
Also in early July, he managed to cut his list — from 60 to 25. That double-dozen obviously couldn't all be considered legitimate contenders, but the attention had arrived with such velocity at the Turners' doorstep that they needed time to pare things down.
Turner then focused on his senior year — which was terrific. He earned numerous All-American honors and will be one of college basketball's most heralded freshmen in 2014-15.
As for where he'll play, he waited through the end of April to determine a winner. After pondering Texas and Kansas most seriously, he opted in favor of the Longhorns.
Turner's height and more importantly reach enable him to control games defensively. He has shut down some of the country's best interior scorers, using his length and timing to swat and alter shots.
He also possesses the mobility to move his feet reasonably well to change angles, even lugging around size 21 shoes(!). His interior quickness is excellent and, with added strength, should enable him to become a fine rebounder and solid positional defender as well.
But he's no one-trick horse. Turner possesses a diverse and highly skilled offensive package that makes him a complete player. He shoots well from the short- and medium-ranges, uses the backboard effectively and even hits a few threes. He's a coordinated dribbler and passer who situationally can face the basket and create opportunities for himself and others.
He's also a fine student of the game and an unselfish teammate who didn't get frustrated at the various camps when his guards took more than their fair share of shots. From that perspective, he's ready to acclimate to the sport's higher levels far more quickly than many of his peers.
Turner definitely lacks muscle and can be beaten up inside. One specific example occurred in a head-to-head versus Okafor, after Turner had caused his foe problems early with his shot-changing ability. After awhile, Okafor adjusted and began to physically overpower Turner — a naturally thin player — inside. Turner also had problems at McDonald's All-American practices against Kentucky signee Karl Towns.
Moreover, it's not merely a strength issue; Turner simply must become more physical. He'll never be a full-time face-up player, and adjusting his style to be predominantly an interior weapon stands as an area he can improve.
Concerns about his speed exist as well. He doesn't move as fluidly as your typical top-10 big man, something NBA scouts noted this postseason.
Evaluating and ranking Turner isn't as much about today. Yes, he's quite effective at present, but he has improved so much — and so rapidly — that setting an expected endgame for him proves a futile task.
He's on course to become a successful college and NBA player, and with continued progress he may even end up the best performer to emerge from the Class of 2014.