The first recruit of the Tubby Smith era has signed with Texas Tech and his name is Robert Turner. The six-foot-one point guard from New Mexico Junior College by way of Augusta, Georgia will have two years of eligibility, and will be counted on to contribute immediately and critically.
In a sense, Turner was a "must get." Josh Gray, Tech's starting point guard, and a player presumed by most to be the likely linchpin of next year's squad, decided to transfer, leaving the Red Raiders thin and perhaps a bit talent-deficient at the critical point guard position. Tubby Smith, who only joined the program in early April, was far behind the recruiting curve after taking the reins of Tech's reeling program. Finding a competent point guard under those circumstances was simultaneously crucial and difficult. But with the signing of Turner, Smith has one "mission accomplished" to chalk up next to his name.
Turner was not a blue chip recruit. Smith didn't fight off Coach K, John Calipari and Rick Pitino to win his services. But Turner could very well prove to be a diamond in the ruff who will greatly soften the blow of Josh Gray's departure.
The first thing to know about Turner is that he was the starting point guard on a very good junior college team. New Mexico Junior College was ranked as high as number eight and finished with a 27-7 record following an overtime loss to Northwest Florida in the first round of the NJCAA National Tournament. Northwest Florida went on to play in the NJCAA national title game. New Mexico Junior College's seven losses were by a combined 26 points.
Rob Turner was a critical component of this team. During his time in Hobbs, he played both the point and shooting guard positions, and as such, is a player who can not only handle the rock, but score it as well. Turner can also defend. He averaged 10 points, three assists and two points per game, while averaging 13 minutes of court time per contest. Turner shot 43 percent from the floor, 26 percent from three-point country and 63 percent from the free throw line.
Turner was a clutch player for NMJC in 2012-13. His back-to-back threes broke open a tight game against Cochise; he converted an old fashioned three-point play to spark the Thunderbirds to victory over New Mexico Military Institute; he led the team with 23 points in a win over Western Texas and scored 17 in a huge win over defending national champion South Plains College.
Turner is a player who tends to blow hot and cold, and to score in bunches. He has been known to be dormant for a half and then explode in the next. Turner also appears to have a chippy side to his game—he was ejected from a game against New Mexico Junior College after an altercation with an opponent.
Rob Turner will be the fourth Red Raider to have played basketball both at Texas Tech and New Mexico Junior College. Marshall Taylor, a point guard late in Gerald Myers' tenure; Lenny Holly, who played his freshman season under James Dickey, and the legendary Mike Russell, a mid-seventies star for a couple of Myers' greatest teams, are all NMJC alumni. Russell's 19.3 rebounds per game still stands as the school single-season rebound record.