Jahlil Okafor gets most of the attention, but there are a number of NBA scouts who think the best big man in this year’s class is going to end up being Myles Turner. The 7-0 Chris Bosh clone still doesn’t know where he’s going to college but a decision should be coming soon. (He has offers from Ohio State, Kansas, Kentucky, Arizona, Oklahoma State and Texas). In the meantime, he’ll be taking the court tonight in Portland at the Nike Hoop Summit in front of dozens or NBA scouts.
Before tonight’s action, I caught up with the 240-pound center to talk about school, what he wants to study and who he emulates in the NBA.
*** *** ***
Dime: You wanna go ahead and give us the scoop on your college decision?
Myles Turner: [laughs] I’m gonna wait until after the Jordan Brand Classic, so I can go ahead and make a good decision for myself.
Dime: There have been some rumors that a few of your teammates here have been trying to recruit you to come play with them this fall. (The Kansas City Star reported earlier this month that Cliff Alexander has been lobbying hard for Turner to become a Jayhawk.)
MT: Not necessarily. They’ll do little things here and there like “hey, if I make this shot, you gotta go to Iowa State. If I do this, you gotta go to Duke.” But they don’t hound me about it. They reiterate the fact that they want me. They show me in practice, but they don’t hound me about it. It’s been all good.
Dime: How do you feel about the scrimmage against these local college players? It seemed like they were getting after it a little bit on defense and making you guys work. (Note: the USA squad scrimmaged a collection of local college and high school players at Thursday night’s practice, which was open to NBA scouts.)
MT: Yeah, we need to get used to it. That’s what we’re gonna be doing next year, for some of us the next couple of years. They gave us great looks. I’m really glad we were able to come out here and play against bigger, stronger, tougher guys. Just coming out and playing with them, it really showed us a lot. We always gotta play up to our level of competition. We can’t play down.
Dime: In terms of college choices, what are you looking for most in a school? What are some of the main factors that will go into your decision?
MT: Definitely where I feel the most comfortable. That’s a big thing. On these visits, whoever makes me feel like part of the team. That’s a big thing because you’re gonna be with these guys for a little while. These are the people you’re gonna remember for the rest of your life, so really just feeling comfortable around the student body. A good education is gonna come with any school you go to. They’re obviously Division-I colleges, and just a good coaching staff, just knowing you can be comfortable around them, one, and two, just get what you need to get to the next level.
Dime: You’ve said before that academics are important to you, so do you have any idea about what you’d like to major in?
MT: Definitely. I wanna try to get into counseling and psychology, or I might even minor in psychology or major in some form of counseling. I’m not exactly sure what form yet, but that’s definitely what I’m into.
Dime: It’s been a busy month for you guys with the McDonald’s All-American Game in Chicago last week, the Nike Hoop Summit this week in Portland, and the Jordan Brand Classic in New York coming up later in the month. How do you find the balance with school, sports and social life?
MT: I missed a good three weeks of school. I mean, now it’s great, but I know once I come back it’s gonna suck. You gotta go back and, of course, get all our work done, so…I’m very happy to be a part of all this, and I wouldn’t wanna trade it for the world.
Dime: What does it mean to you personally to be a part of USA Basketball and represent your country? As a youngster, did you dream of one day being an Olympian?
MT: Oh yeah. I mean, I watched Team USA growing up–LeBron, Carmelo, Kevin Garnett, and everybody, Kevin Durant, just watching them play, knowing that I could do that, that it could be me one day. I really look up to all of them, and just to be a part of the same program, wear the same jersey they’re wearing, just represent the USA, all in one, it just means the world to me.
Dime: What part of your game are you working to develop?
MT: Just being more fluid in the post. That’s definitely something I need to get more accustomed to, being able to catch it and just go to work, don’t hesitate. I like the face-up game right now, and I wanna get my back-to-the-basket game a little bit better, so that’s some of the stuff I need to work out.
Dime: There’s a little bit of sidespin on your jump shot. Are shot mechanics something you’ve been working on?
MT: Yeah, you know, it’s something that I’m trying to work on , but it’s working for me right now, so I’m not gonna change any of my mechanics yet. If I have downtime in the summer, I’ll definitely work on it, but as long as it’s falling, I’m not gonna change anything.
Dime: How important is a win tonight, considering the World Select Team has won the past two years?
MT: It’s huge. The World Team, they’re very confident coming into this that they can beat us, but I think I speak for everyone when I say we’re not gonna let that happen. We gotta come out here and get it done. We don’t wanna make it three-in-a-row for them. We need to keep the talent in the USA, and we’re looking forward to putting on a good show and show them what USA Basketball is all about.
Dime: How do you think the USA’s frontcourt matches up with the World Select Team?
MT: It’s gonna be interesting, very interesting, due to the fact that some of them are from the US, and we’ve seen them play before, and we’ve played against them. There’s a couple of foreign big men, but being… I don’t wanna say comfortable…but knowing what they can do, that kind of helps a little bit.
Dime: Who are your favorite NBA players, and who do you model your game after?
MT: Kevin Durant is my favorite player, he’s always been my favorite player since he was at Texas, and that’s where I’m from. It’s huge. I’ve always admired him, and I always wanna try to kind of be like him. I’m a couple of inches taller, but I’ve always wanted to try to do some of the things he does, on and off the court.
Dime: How do you like Portland so far?
MT: It’s nice. I mean, it’s a little bit different than Texas. There’s a lot more trees. It’s really pretty out here. I like it.
What do you think?
Follow Jamie on Twitter at @WinoCarpenter.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.