With all but one of the elite college basketball recruits already committed on where they would be playing next winter, seven-foot Myles Turner out of Dallas, Texas, had the spotlight all to himself Wednesday afternoon when he announced he would be playing his college basketball for coach Rick Barnes at the University of Texas.
Turner, ranked No. 2 in the ESPN Top 100 recruits for 2014 and No. 9 in the Rivals 150 chose Texas over at least eight other elite college programs that were highly interested in bringing him on board for the 2014-15 college basketball season, In all, the talented seven-foot prospect received more than 60 offers over the course of the last year, which he narrowed down to 25 initially and then down to eight heading into last fall.
It was reported that the eight schools still in content as Turner began his senior year at Trinity High in Euless, Texas, were, in no particular order, Texas, Kansas, Duke, SMU, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Kentucky, Arizona and Texas A&M.
Over the past six weeks or so, speculation has run rampant on which school Turner would choose to attend. In recent days, though, unconfirmed reports were saying that he had narrowed his selection process down to two schools – Texas and Kansas – both in the Big 12 Conference.
In a live TV and radio broadcast, Turner ended the suspense with the statement: “I will be pursuing my education and be part of the men’s basketball program at…(long pause)…the University of Texas, baby. Hook’em!”
While there were some college basketball experts who believed that Kansas might have seized the upper hand from the favorite Texas when freshman sensation Joel Embiid, himself a seven-footer, announced that he would be leaving school and declaring for the NBA draft, it ended up that staying in the state of Texas was a prime consideration for the McDonald’s All-American from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. He also listed former Longhorn and current NBA star Kevin Durant as his favorite player.
The addition of Turner as the Longhorns prized recruit in its 2014 class, probably elevates Texas to preseason top-10 status instead of somewhere in the top- 20 in the national rankings. The Longhorns lose none of the starting five from last season’s team, which finished with a record of 24-11 an tied for third in the conference standings.
Texas already had great size and length on its front line with 6-9 Cameron Ridley and Connor Lammert and 6-8 Jonathan Holmes. Turner’s size and defensive talents will only make the Longhorns even stronger upfront. Ridley and Lammert will be juniors next season; Holmes will be a senior.
As a high school senior this past season, Turner averages 18 points and 12.2 rebounds, 6.8 blocked shots and 3.5 assists per game.
Kansas head coach Bill Self put a lot of effort, especially the last several months trying to persuade the seven-foot Texas prospect to leave his home state for the Sunflower. Unfortunately, Self was not successful.
But don’t feel sorry for Kansas, though. The Jayhawks lose All-Big 12 players Embiid and Andrew Wiggins, the No, 1 overall recruit in the 2013 class, but they are still loaded. In addition to three returning starters, Kansas is bringing in the country’s fifth-best recruiting class, including two five-star, top-10 players in 6-9 power forward Cliff Alexander from Chicago and 6-7 small forward Kelly Oubre, who hails from Richmond, Texas.
“I’m happy to be a Texan,” Turner said. “Always been a Texas my whole life.”