It wasn't planned this way, but it was fitting.
Ohio State had one home game that lined up with the NBA All-Star break and it happened to be against Michigan, meaning Tuesday night was the only time this season that Evan Turner would be able to come to Columbus to see his jersey hung in the rafters. Considering the 2010 National Player of the Year's most iconic moment came against the Wolverines, things lined up perfectly.
Turner's now infamous buzzer-beating three in the quarterfinals of the 2010 Big Ten Tournament was not what the former Buckeye listed as his first memory when thinking of Ohio State.
"I think the time shortly after I broke my back. My junior year we all wanted to win the Big Ten title. Me going down we were kind of scrambling to find the best rotation. We start off the Big Ten conference 1-3. The reason I went back to college was to win a Big Ten title, at least," Turner said. "Start off 1-3 and finish the conference 12-1 and win a Big Ten title, it spoke a lot about our character as a team. We were courageous, we persevered, we were mentally tough."
During halftime of the game, one Ohio State won 76-66, Turner's number was hung next to other Ohio State greats. The honor does not signify the number is retired, but Turner’s name will hang alongside those of John Havlicek, John Lucas, Gary Bradds and Jim Jackson.
He spoke at half court for more than five minutes after his jersey was unveiled and got choked up when thanking his mother for all her support.
Turner took in the Ohio State-Michigan game alongside fellow Boston Celtic and former Buckeye Jared Sullinger.
"I would do it for any Buckeye," Sullinger said of attending the event. "Whoever get's their jersey retired next, I'd do it for any Buckeye. It's a fraternity around here. Once you're a Buckeye you're always a Buckeye."
Sullinger was one of a handful of former players in attendance for the ceremony while several others offered video tributes that were shown on the jumbotron throughout the game.
Turner, who helped load cases of water prior to the game as part of Ohio State's efforts to aid the water crisis in Flint, Mich., returns to Columbus each summer to work with current Buckeyes and while he remains close to Matta, he and the coach had a rocky relationship at times.
“Evan could be a little bit moody at times when he first got here," Matta said Monday. "He and I would go round and round and round and round and round to the point one day where I Kung-Fu kicked a side door of the gym open and told him to either grow up or go home and I really don’t care which one it is. Thank goodness he stayed and chose the growing up. It’s funny because I’m probably as close to Evan as any player. He calls me on Father’s Day, he calls me on my birthday. Last year he came in and shut my door in the offseason and had some life questions about family, about getting married and all these things."
Turner grew into the player of the year and was selected No. 2 overall in the 2010 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers and now plays for the Boston Celtics. He is the first of Matta's players at Ohio State to have his number hung in the rafters.
"It's a blessing. Not many people are able to do it," Turner said. "I'm super blessed to be able to be around the people up there. It's beautiful."