You don't need to know a lot about basketball to know that Myles Turner is a fantastic prospect. The LaMarcus Aldridge comparisons are obvious - Turner is a long, athletic and skilled 7'0 from the Dallas area. The top remaining unsigned player in the class of 2014, Turner has played his decision pretty close to the vest. Texas is reported to be in the lead, but he was pretty non-committal when talking to reporters at the McDonald's All-American Game last week.
If Rick Barnes can land Turner, it would be his biggest recruiting coup since the Findlay Prep - Canada pipeline dried up. He hasn't landed a premier recruit from Dallas in a decade, since Aldridge in 2004 and CJ Miles in 2005. With Texas nowhere to be found in recent years, Oklahoma State (Marcus Smart, LeBryan Nash), Baylor (Isaiah Austin, Perry Jones 3) and SMU (Keith Frazier, Emmanuel Mudiay) have made the DFW Metroplex their own.
Over the last generation, Dallas has produced a long line of elite PF's - Kenyon Martin, Chris Bosh, LMA, Anthony Randolph, Darrell Arthur, PJ3, Tony Mitchell, Austin and Julius Randle. Turner has the chance to be as good as any of them. He can play above the rim, bang in the paint, score with his back to the basket, put the ball on the floor and shoot from the perimeter. He's an athletic 7'0 230 big man who finished fourth in the three-point contest at the McDonald's game.
At the college level, though, Turner may be too talented for his own good. That was (one of) PJ3's problems at Baylor - he was a jack of all trades but master of none. While he could do everything reasonably well, there wasn't one thing his team could count on him to give on a nightly basis. A guy who knows who he is, in terms of where he wants to get buckets, can be more consistent than a guy who takes 1-2 3's, 1-2 post-ups and 1-2 dribble drives a game.
If there was a knock on Turner in Chicago, it was that he was "soft" and unable to impose his will on a basketball game. As a jump-shooting big man, he will have to resist the temptation to float to the perimeter and not use his athletic advantage to dominate the paint. Turner said he wanted to improve his post-up game in college, but one of the Kansas kids told me he thought Turner should work on his perimeter game and try to get his KD on.
KD was his favorite player growing up, so I'm sure that's been a huge part of our recruiting strategy with him. Nevertheless, Turner is already way thicker than KD was at the same age - he's a 4/5, not a 3/4. His ideal role at the college level is as a center on an uptempo team - you can count the number of college big men who can bang and run with Turner on one hand. He should be somewhere where he can get 30-35 minutes at the 4 and 5 positions.
If Turner comes to Austin, it's going to be a tight squeeze. Cameron Ridley at the 5 and Jonathan Holmes at the 4 could be one of the best frontcourts in the country next season, even without Turner. Neither has his pure talent, but they are older, they have a lot more experience and they know who they are at the college level. If the Longhorns run most of their offense through Ridley and Holmes, they both have a chance to be All Big 12 players.
In theory, you could go with a super-sized frontcourt and move Holmes to the 3. Turner and Holmes have enough shooting ability to space the floor around Ridley, but playing 3 natural post players would put a crimp in the team's ball-handling and perimeter defense. A 3-post offense can work, but it would require a ton of shooting from the other two guard positions, a commitment to play in the half-court and a lot of structure on offense.
I'll be generous and say none of those things are trademarks of a Rick Barnes coached team. That doesn't even get into the problem with Prince Ibeh and Connor Lammert, both of whom will want bigger roles as upperclassmen. There's just not enough minutes for 5 big men on any college team - see Marcus Lee's playing time at Kentucky this season. Good college teams tend to look more like Michigan, which played 4-out with only 1 big man. Put enough ball-handlers and shooters on the floor and the offense takes care of itself.
The worst-case scenario if Turner comes to Austin looks a lot like the way Texas lost to Michigan in the NCAA Tournament. The other team sits in a zone, negating most of the Longhorns size advantage, and dares the Longhorns to beat them from the perimeter. On defense, the big men get lost running around screens and give up open 3's. If Texas plays 3 post players, Isaiah Taylor and the other guards HAVE to be able to shoot. Just as important, they can't take quick shots which lead to run-outs the other way.
Having too much talent upfront is a pretty good problem to have, but it is still a problem, especially if a coach isn't particularly creative. Turner replicates a lot of the strengths of the Texas roster and doesn't do much to address the weaknesses. If he comes or not, next season will come down to how much the guards improve as shooters and decision-makers and whether Barnes can build an offense that maximizes the wealth of talent he has in his front-court.
Barring an injury, which is why LMA came back for his sophomore season, Turner is essentially a lock to be a one-and-done player. The class of 2015 isn't as top-heavy as 2014 - Turner could do nothing next season and still be worth a lottery pick. In terms of on-court fit for his only college season, he makes a lot more sense at SMU or Kansas, if Joel Embiid doesn't come back. That's why I kind of doubt he ends up at Texas and why I won't be too upset if he doesn't.