Turner Vowed To Avenge Last Year's Snub

When Ohio State guard Evan Turner did not hear his name called as the Big Ten's player of the year a season ago, he made a vow to remove all doubt the next season. That vow paid off Monday when the point guard became the fifth Buckeye to bring home the honor. In this article, find out Turner's reaction to the award.

As Michigan State guard Kalin Lucas heard his name called as the Big Ten's player of the year last season, Ohio State's Evan Turner made a vow to himself.

Never again. Next season, he would make sure there was no doubt that he was the conference's top player.

"I just figured next year we're going to win the conference and I'm not going to give anybody any reason to put somebody else over me," he said. "I worked hard and got my team together and we're a good unit. We got it accomplished."

Indeed they did. Monday morning, the OSU junior point guard learned that he had been selected as the Big Ten's most valuable player, becoming the fifth Buckeye to be so honored. His selection capped a year that has seen the Chicago native bring home his fair share of hardware.

In addition to finishing the year as the league leader in points (19.9) and rebounds (9.4) while finishing second in assists (5.8) and steals (1.8), Turner brought home a Big Ten record seven player of the week honors. With each award, the junior said the significance would not hit him until he was a few years removed from the event.

That has not changed with this most recent – and biggest – award.

"It probably won't hit me for a couple years," he said. "I'm just so focused on today and the opportunity we have at the Big Ten tournament. I can't really just sit here and rest on my laurels right now. My teammates and I are hungry for more."

Although he led the league in scoring a season ago at 17.3 points per game, Turner said he felt his biggest improvement as a junior was in his mental approach to the game. A player who would often wear his emotions on his sleeve during games, Turner has learned to curb those impulses this season.

"I feel like I'm mentally tougher," he said. "I feel like I look at the glass half-full instead of half-empty. When there's a tough time I feel like I have the ability to overcome anything."

He said he plans to give the award to his mother.

Turner was selected the player of the year by both the coaches and the media, but the coaches did not unanimously endorse him. Asked which coach he thought might not have voted for him, Turner said, "I honestly don't know, but it doesn't matter to tell you the truth."

The Buckeyes rebounded from a 1-3 start in conference play to capture a share of the league title and the No. 1 seed in the postseason tournament. Turner said he could not pinpoint a specific game where he realized being named the conference player of the year was within his grasp but said the most likely culprit would be his team's Jan. 12 victory at Purdue.

Despite a career night from Purdue's Robbie Hummel in the first half alone, Turner scored 23 of his career-high 32 points in the second half to lead an OSU comeback victory. From there, the Buckeyes would win 13 of their final 14 conference games.

As he took questions from reporters, Turner frequently deflected thoughts of the award to the future instead. After winning the award, Turner said he did not place any immediate phone calls to share the news, saying that those closest to him already basically knew it was coming.

"They said congrats and everything but that's pretty much it," he said. "We didn't dwell on it too much. Coach Matta really has us focused on the next day and the next step. They're really happy for me but right now we all know we have a mission."

Also potentially on the docket for the coming weeks is the national player of the year honor, an award largely expected to go to either Turner or Kentucky's John Wall.

"It's a very prestigious award," Turner said. "I'd be very grateful to win it like some of the great players in the past. I said it before: that trophy not only goes to me but represents my family, my friends, all the coaches who I've played for. It's one big symbol for everyone who's believed in me and all the teams I've played for. That's what that means."

The Buckeyes return to action Friday at noon when they play their first game in the Big Ten tournament. With the regular season in the books, Turner said his team is aware of the fact that the end of the season could be right around the corner if they do not remain focused.

"I feel like we're well-rested but we're competing," he said. "We're competing every day in practice and we're doing a great job. We're really excited to try to make sure the season doesn't end early.

"God forbid we go to (Indianapolis) and lose our first game and then go to the NCAA Tournament and lose our first game. Eighty minutes of basketball and it could be over. We really don't want that to happen. We really want to make the most of our talent."

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