When one is as tall as Myles Turner, few things are out of reach — both literally and figuratively. Yet the slender 6’11 NBA draft prospect is well-grounded despite having realistic aspirations to reach the stars. On the one hand, he’s still a kid who likes playing Call of Duty, playing with his dog and spending time with his family. On the other hand, he’s a young adult getting ready for the grind of his chosen profession, a job that might seem him next to LaMarcus Aldridge or Anthony Davis.
He’s honest, maybe even to a fault — giving insightful reviews on his strengths and weaknesses, the latter of which includes declining skills in NBA 2K. He’s as wide open as the state of Texas he holds dear, but understanding and welcoming of the changes that are about to come his way in both location and lifestyle.
On a warm sunny afternoon after a workout at his former high school, Turner spent some time talking with us about his freshman season, preparing for the next level and his travels as a young man.
Dime: Congratulations on a successful freshman season, but since you won’t be returning, what’s one of the biggest takeaways you have from attending the University of Texas?
Turner: Thank you so much. Regarding the takeaway, it would be how everything flew by so quickly. It seems like it was just yesterday I was in high school playing in my old stomping grounds on the Trinity court. This past year just went by a lot faster than I expected. Coming out and declaring early has its upside but I miss it (college) a little bit. It was a great time in a great city with great teammates.
Was your plan always to be one and done or did you want to see how the season played out?
I wanted to see how the season played out. I wanted to give my all to the University of Texas. It would have been kind of selfish of me to go in there thinking I was going to be one and done right away. Of course I had dreams and aspirations of going to the league and with the way things panned out this year I am projected pretty high. So I just thought it was the right choice for me to enter my name into the draft.
You were able to produce statistically throughout the year. How much of that was due to preparation before each game?
The coaching staff deserves all the credit. They go out and scouted the teams we were playing and gave us the practice plans. They worked with us every day to get better and all credit goes to them.
Many times those scouting reports are heavily based in analytics. Are you a big analytics guy paying attention to your impact outside of the raw numbers of points, rebounds and blocks?
Actually no, I just go out there and play. I’m not really into all the stats and stuff like that—I know it has its benefits but I’m more a fan of just getting whatever needs to be done accomplished.
Outside of analytics do you pay attention to or read some of the stuff that is said about you both good and bad?
At times I do. I try to tell myself not to but social media is just right there and at times I will read it. But I am learning to shy away from it because one day people are praising you then the next day they are saying what you suck at. You just have to take it all with a grain of salt.
With that being said what would your own scouting report include? What are your strengths and weaknesses?
I’ll start with some of my weaknesses. I’d say I need to get stronger of course to develop on the next level. I need to develop more of a back-to-the-basket game to compliment my face-up game. I probably need to get better improving my field goal percentage—just being more efficient. As far as some of my strengths—I defend the basket well and I think of myself as a rim protector. I’m 7-foot tall and I’m able to shoot the ball inside and out…and I’m able to shoot over defenders. Those are some of the things that jump out right away.
Being a big that can shoot do you see yourself as true center or as hybrid stretch-four?
I believe I’m a center. In college I played the stretch-four position but I feel like in the league my game will be more defined as a center…I just happen to shoot.
That’s refreshing to hear. So it sounds like you want to play both inside and outside in the NBA. Is that correct?
Exactly. At my height I think I am going to be most productive near the basket.
As you prepare for the draft process who are you leaning on for guidance, advice and to keep you mentally grounded?
My inner circle. Just the three people I’ve been rolling with throughout this whole process—my mom, my dad and my trainer Ken Roberson. Those are the only three whose words I truly take to heart.
There are some quality bigs in this upcoming draft. Who are some of your favorites that you have either played against or watched at some point?
Definitely Jahlil Okafor. He has a great low-post game and he’s very agile down there. He’s light on his feet and he has a great game to watch. Karl-Anthony Towns too, he’s another big I’ve gone up against a couple of times and he’s versatile as well. Frank Kaminsky had a great year this season and I like watching him. He moves well for how big he is and has great skills with the ball. Those three are the ones that stand out for me the most. I’ve played against Cliff Alexander a number of times. I wish him all the best but I’m not sure of his situation in Kansas but he’s another young big that I think can do some things.
With those guys you just mentioned is there a friendly rivalry with any of them in place or someone you can’t wait to play against at the next level?
Turner: Jahlil and I have had a couple battles. We haven’t necessarily known each other for that long but we’ve had a couple battles here and there and that might continue in the NBA.
Word is you are a big Texas guy. Are you quietly hoping that you make it to one of the three Texas teams in the draft?
Oh I’m definitely a big Texas guy. It would be great to stay in the great state of Texas. Personally I just want to go anywhere—not necessarily even where I fit in—but to anyone who wants to take me in this draft process. I definitely won’t be complaining wherever I go. It’s a contract that so many people grind for and I have been dreaming about this for a while so I can’t complain anywhere I go.
Having played for the USA Basketball Under-18 team and at the University of Texas you have gotten to travel a bit. Where are some places outside of Texas that have impressed you?
I loved going to New York. It is so interesting there…very fast-paced and always moving. Florida is also a great destination; I’ve been to Miami, Tampa Bay and Ft. Lauderdale a couple of times. I actually thought Memphis was an interesting city too. I liked it down there it has a real smooth and chill vibe to it. Pittsburg was pretty cool too but I went when the weather was nice but it was an interesting little town.
So you don’t have a preference necessarily regarding big city or small city? It’s just about the vibe or feel of that town?
Right, it doesn’t matter. I can definitely say that’s true.
Are you nervous about this process with pre-draft workouts and all the evaluations you are about to undergo?
Of course I’m a little nervous but I am also very confident in my preparation. I am excited to get this all rolling. You know not many people will get to say they worked out for all these teams and went to the combine. So I’m very excited and my family is excited as well—they’re a big part of this so it should be fun.
What is something that scouts and evaluators are going to be shocked to find out about you during these upcoming workouts?
Probably just my ability to run. I’ve had a lot of people criticize me about the way I run and I’ve have improved upon that since I’ve been training. That’s going to be one thing that jumps out at people.
It is playoff time in the league in which you are few months away from being a part of. Who do you like to make the Finals?
I am going to say Cleveland and Golden State make it and I like the Warriors to take it.