An Inside Look at Ray Turner

Rounding out the A&M signing class is Houston Jones star Ray Turner. Turner has been lighting it up against tough competition over the off-season and is underrated in the minds of many by the services. Aggie Websider's David Sandhop visits with his coach about his ability.

The Texas A&M basketball signing class of 2009 includes three highly-rated national Top 100 prospects. The fourth player in this class is a mystery man on the national scene, although experts and coaches in the state are well aware of Ray Turner's talents and athletic ability. Aggie Websider's David Sandhop spoke to Houston Jones first year head coach Jesse Shelton about his prized 6-foot-8 versatile post man who still has his best days on the basketball court in front of him.

"I don't think people realize it, but this is only his second year of high school ball," Shelton said. "He's young and inexperienced in the paint, but he's so athletic and long. He makes up for inexperience with athletic ability."

Asked about his current strengths as a basketball player, the Jones head coach didn't hesitate with his response.

"No question, it's his rebounding and shot blocking," Shelton said. "He goes after anything in the paint and he's scrapping for balls all the time. He never slows down."

That doesn't mean Turner can't score on offense. While he's still raw, he can step out and hit a 12-15 foot jump shot and he can score with his back to the basket. Shelton feels his star pupil needs to learn to make plays against defenders his own size, but he's confident the A&M staff will see to it he's ready.

"He works real hard on his offense and he can make shots. Don't get me wrong," Shelton said. "But at 6-foot-8, he dominates the competition and it's pretty easy for him to score over guys that are 6-foot-3. He'll be fine, but he needs that experience before he's ready for the next level."

Many big men in high school with such a big height and size difference will get lazy on defense. Inexperience also shows up in lack of defensive intensity, but that's not the case with Turner.

"On a scale of 1-10, I'd say he's an eight on defense," Shelton said. "He's quick enough that he can step out and take on a guard. When he's in the paint, he can affect so many shots with his long arms. He has an incredible wing span, and that helps with his defense.

Character and attitude also play an important part in the success of any prospect making the jump from high school to the collegiate level. Coach Shelton discussed Turner's mental approach to the game and his leadership skills on the court.

"Ray comes over from another school and sometimes we have problems with these guys doing too much talking, especially someone with his talent and the attention he has received," Shelton said. "But he is a quiet kid and he's humble and respectful of the coaches and players. He does what we ask him to do. The other players gravitate to him and he leads by example. He's been a pleasure to coach."

Overall, the head coach feels that the Aggies are getting a extraordinary talent in Turner, and as good as he is today, he has the potential to be a great basketball player at the next level with more experience and development.

"He's a guy that has his best basketball in front of him," Shelton said. "He has all the athletic tools and he plays with such intensity that with a little more experience and coaching at the next level, he can be a special player at Texas A&M."

Houston Jones starts the 2008 season next Tuesday at 7:30 with a game against Kinkaid High School. The Aggie Websider will keep up with Turner and his teammates throughout the basketball season as they shoot to make a deep run in the state playoffs next spring.

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