And there it is. Myles Turner, a five-star center and McDonald's All-American from Euless (Tex.) Trinity, committed to the Texas Longhorns. Turner picked Texas over the Kansas Jayhawks, SMU Mustangs, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Duke Blue Devils, Ohio State Buckeyes, and Texas A&M Aggies.
Turner is ranked 4th nationally in the 247 Sports Composite Rankings. He joins Jordan Barnett, a small forward from Missouri, as Rick Barnes' two-man 2014 class.
Myles Turner (No. 2 overall) commits to the University of Texas pic.twitter.com/f2hXyr45pk— ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) April 30, 2014
We've written ad naseum about Turner, but in case you need a few more words...
HOW HE FITS IN
I'd pencil Turner in as the starting 4, but it's not a given he starts from Day 1. That starting gig is conditional on whether Jonathan Holmes' can develop as a 3, whether Barnes believes he can get consistent guard play from multiple returnees, and whether Turner is ready to make a move into the starting lineup in the first place.
Whether or not Turner starts, he should be a significant rotation player. Cameron Ridley averaged 25 MPG last year, and Holmes has yet to break the 25 MPG mark in any of his three years on campus. I expect that to stay static, meaning Turner's minutes will come at the expense of Connor Lammert and/or Prince Ibeh (and any marginal minutes Holmes can play at the 3). Simply put, Turner--right now--is a better scorer than Lammert and a better defender than Ibeh.
Turner looks like a prototypical stretch 4 in the NBA, a position currently in vogue. At the Nike Hoop Summit (a USA Basketball event), Turner checked in at 6' 11.5" (with shoes), sporting a 7' 3.75" wingspan. For reference, he's eye-to-eye with Lamarcus Aldridge, and an inch shy in reach.
Turner has a perimeter stroke that deserves respect, though he hasn't exhibited the ballhandling skills of a big like Karl Towns. His ability to make hay in the post won't be compared to Jahlil Okafor anytime soon, but he should be able to score inside due to sheer height, athleticism, and will. On defense, Turner is a plus shot blocker. It's not a jump up and down exercise like Ibeh. Turner is opportune and should be a great help defender, especially with Ridley clogging the inside. Rebounding shouldn't be an issue, assuming he has want to.
On offense, Turner will be a deadly secondary big next to Cameron Ridley. With Killa Cam taking care of everything inside, Turner provides 4-out floor spacing with the potential to add to Texas' cadre of offensive rebounding studs. A twin tower defense sounds promising as well, though any good team worth its salt will force one of the giants to perimeter defend, counting on the fact that Texas will score less than it gives up.
There are guys who peak at 18, guys who hit the NBA running, and guys who take time to mature and develop. Kevin Durant made his first All-Star Game appearance when he was 21; Lamarcus Aldridge got his at 26.
Turner has worlds of potential, but I'd temper expectations. Remember when we expected Ridley to come in averaging 12/8 as a freshman? Check that development curve for bigs again. I don't expect Turner the freshman to be a dominant freak of nature like Anthony Davis, nor am I banking on him flashing advanced low-post skills like a Jared Sullinger or Jahlil Okafor. Instead, he will need to maximize his existing strengths (good shot, tall tree, quick-twitch athleticism) and develop more competitive advantages over time.
There are folks clamoring that, a la Aldridge, Turner will stay two years. I personally think his size and skill set make him too enticing for a 2015 NBA Lottery team to pass up, but time will tell.
Marcus Smart. Julius Randle. The Harrison twins. Kelly Oubre. Justise Winslow. These are but a handful of recent elite Texas blue chippers that Barnes put on his wish list, only to see them commit elsewhere. The "We're Texas" spiel hadn't been working in Lone Star living rooms. Barnes looked to be digging a deeper hole after burning his Houston connections by running Sheldon McClellan and Julien Lewis out of the program.
Let's just say things have changed. Last spring, Barnes surprised by landing Kendal Yancy from greater Dallas and Isaiah Taylor from Houston, plucking them from two historically anti-Texas AAU programs. Timing and luck played a factor, as Yancy was a December decommit from a USC program in transition while Taylor flew under the radar (300th best prospect in the nation, ladies and gentlemen!). You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from. Instead of landing another rotten apple to sign early, Barnes found two gems instead.
Still, the Longhorns had little to show in the 2014 class. Aside from the Barnett commitment springing out of nowhere, about the only time the word "Longhorns" was uttered occurred when a prospect said he was no longer considering them (see: Mudiay, Emmanuel; Winslow, Justise; Jackson, Justin). Even the Turner recruitment stayed quiet, with the Kansas Jayhawks taking the early lead and national schools like the Duke Blue Devils seemingly feeling good about their position.
Barnes kept plugging away, turning in a surprisingly successful season that lent positive vibes to Turner's recruitment. Barnes also hired former Longhorn Jai Lucas as a special assistant, an underrated move that built a bridge to Houston pied piper John Lucas, Jai's father. Rebuilding capital isn't one fell swoop; it's finding inefficiencies and exploiting them over time. And for Rick, it feels like some kind of miracle.
Turner's favorite player is Kevin Durant, a fact also uttered by former targets like Randle and Devonta Pollard. Unlike those prospects, Turner is actually coming to Texas. As Barnes looks to the future and has to find replacements for guys like Holmes, Ridley, and Taylor, prospecting in-state once again looks like a viable option. He'll find the guys that want to go fill the shoes of not only Kevin Durant, but also Myles Turner.
What's the bottom line?
We're Texas. And we're back.