It’s not that he got cold feet or wanted to weigh all his options, or even because he needed a little more time to think. The Scout three-star simply wanted to make sure he could take the next big step with his family watching.
Turner, an Alabama native who moved to Florida to attend IMG Academy earlier in the year, wasn’t able to go back home to Huntsville until after he finished his course load. It was important for him to share the special moment with the people who supported him throughout his journey to the Vols, so Turner waited almost a month so his family and friends could witness him sign on the dotted line in his hometown gym.
“That was very special because I really get involved with my family and my commitment,” Turner told InsideTennessee. “I was away at school and stuff like that, so I knew with my signing I wanted to come home and get my family around me and stuff. It was really good to be with the people that support you and everything.”
Now the combo guard is heading to join his new family in Knoxville. Turner has been handed the keys to the backcourt as Tennessee hopes to develop him into the playmaking point man Rick Barnes and his staff desire. The 6-1, 185-pound Turner grew up as a shooting guard, but will now be asked to handle the ball at a position he’s still learning.
“Originally I played the two because, being in the state of Alabama, I’m a bigger guard there. Guards there are like 5-11, 5-10, so I had to play off the ball a lot,” Turner said. “When I got to Florida, especially IMG, I played point guard. That’s when I started developing my point guard skills.”
Being at the prestigious basketball academy was a crash course in point guard work paired with intense physical training and skill development. Turner gained ten pounds of muscle while at the school and said he became a much more versatile athlete in the process.
“I went to IMG really just to develop me, my body, my mentality, everything,” he said. “Just work on my every-day game because I know IMG has great facilities as far as weight room, basketball trainers, just the whole nine yards.”
Turner admits it’s a little overwhelming knowing he’s joining the Vols as heir apparent of the point, but it’s a situation he’s embraced with the ferocious work ethic that defined his high school career.
“I’m just telling myself I’ve got to work because nothing is really given,” he said. “Yeah, they’re telling me that the point guard spot is mine and everything, but I’ve got to come in and work for it just like everybody else. I’ve got to compete every day in practice and earn my spot. I know if I do that, ultimately, I’ll be ready.”
After reclassifying from the class of 2016 to 2015, Turner joined the Vols and immediately brought his ball handling ability to a team that desperately needed it. He’s also matched head coach Rick Barnes’ expectations as a player who refuses to categorize this year’s Tennessee team as a rebuilding effort. The newest Vol, who is best friends with 2015 LSU commit and Scout five-star Antonio Blakeney, has already started chirping at his new on-court rival.
“LSU has got a lot of big recruits this year and I’m telling him every day, we’re going to beat y’all,” Turner said. “We’re going to come in and work and be better than y’all. I got high expectations at Tennessee.”
Breaking out the pen and spilling its ink on a national letter of intent has made Turner’s commitment seem real now. The newest Tennessee point guard plans to enroll in July, and he’s ready for his family at home to meet the orange and white one he’s joining.
“It definitely feels real now,” Turner said. “I think when I was committed, it was really a lot of hype, but now I’m a Tennessee Vol for life. That’s just who I am now.”