The 19-year-old Texas 7-footer, selected with the 11th overall pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft, seemed right at home.
“Indiana, man, I’m here now,” he said. “I’m very excited to be part of the organization, rich history, basketball country out here. I have a lot of family ties out here. I’m just willing to work. I’m just willing to take my game to the next level, whatever it takes to get this program rolling, rolling more than what it already was.
“I’m very excited to be part of this organization. Word can’t express.”
Turner has Hoosier ties to family in Fort Wayne. But he had never been to Indianapolis until a pre-draft workout on June 14.
“It’s really actually a lot similar to Austin, just going around,” he said. “I know it’s growing. It’s becoming quite popular. I’m excited to see what it’s about.”
Bird and Vogel have praised the rookie for his basketball IQ, among other traits, and Turner gave a taste of that in expressing his observations about the Pacers. He realizes the team is shifting its focus toward an up-tempo style, but he said Indiana is known for having traditional post players, such as center Roy Hibbert, center Ian Mahinmi and forward David West.
He’s already aware of what he needs to work on to speed up his on-court development.
“Just learning the details,” Turner said. “Those are the big things that coach (Rick) Barnes really got on me a lot about at Texas, whether it’s footwork or defensive positioning, just all the stuff I’m going to need to succeed at this level.
“I need to mature, of course, on and off the floor. Like Mr. Bird was saying, I’m young. But I don’t think that will hold me back whatsoever.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.