May 20, 2009

Turner sets sights on gold with Team USA

Don't tell Ohio State forward Evan Turner that today's college basketball player doesn't care about winning.

A first team all-conference performer and the runner up for Big Ten Player of the Year in 2008-09, Turner passed up the chance to be a first round pick in the 2009 NBA Draft for another shot at a Big Ten title.

The Chicago native delighted Buckeyes fans everywhere when he stayed true to his word that he was coming back to Ohio State for his junior season with the goal of winning a championship. Before he suits up for Thad Matta and the Buckeyes again this fall, however, Turner will go after a different kind of championship this summer as he represents his country on the 2009 USA Basketball Men's World University Games Team.

"It means a lot, to be one of the few select people to play for our country and represent our country is the opportunity of a lifetime," Turner said.

Turner recently flew to Colorado to take part in the USA Men's World University Games Team Trials, and it was quite the eye-opening experience.

"It was kind of a tough process; it was kind of intimidating flying to Colorado Springs and going to the Olympic facilities and have tons of people watching you," Turner said. "It was kind of different as far as off the court stuff, but on the court I was pretty comfortable. Ive been playing basketball my whole life, so all I knew was just play my game and I'm sure I could impress people."

Coming off a season in which he led the Buckeyes in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals, Turner will join Team USA in Belgrade, Serbia this summer for the 2009 men's basketball competition that will take place July 2-12. Turner joins 14 of his fellow collegiate athletes, including Purdue's Robbie Hummel and Penn State's Talor Battle, as they compete against 23 other national teams for the gold medal; which is something Turner is not taking lightly.

"I was driving in my car the other day thinking man I get to represent team USA and if I get to win a gold medal that would be so cool to tell my kids," he said.

Also joining Turner on the squad is North Carolina forward Deon Thompson, who along with Turner's OSU teammate David Lighty, helped lead the USA U19 World Championship Team to the silver medal at the 2007 U19 Worlds in Serbia.

Turner has already gotten some advice from his Buckeye teammate on what it's like to play overseas, and he understands that it's a different kind of game from what he has played in high school and college.

"We're going to have to play by their rules for the most part," Turner said. "It's a little bit different type of basketball, but I'm sure it will be fun all together."

Also accepting initiations from the USA Basketball Men's Junior National Team Committee to participate in the 2009 USA Men's World University Games Team Trials were: James Anderson (Oklahoma State / Junction City, Ark.); Trevor Booker (Clemson / Whitmire, S.C.); Craig Brackins (Iowa State / Palmdale, Calif.); Da'Sean Butler (West Virginia / Newark, N.J.); Sherron Collins (Kansas / Chicago, Ill.); Mike Davis (Illinois / Alexandria, Va.); Corey Fisher (Villanova / Bronx, N.Y.); Lazar Hayward (Marquette / Buffalo, N.Y.); JaJuan Johnson (Purdue / Indianapolis, Ind.); Quincy Pondexter (Washington / Fresno, Calif.); and Jarvis Varnado (Mississippi State / Brownsville, Tenn.).

Leading the group in their quest for gold will be a familiar face to Buckeye fans as University of Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan has been selected by USA Basketball to serve as head coach of the 2009 USA Men's World University Games Team. It will be Turner's first opportunity to play for Ryan, a coach who recruited him very hard coming out of high school.

"Coach Ryan's a great coach. It came down to Ohio State and Wisconsin when I was choosing my college destination," Turner said. "Maybe this will be a little bit of a reward for trying so hard for me."

Turner and his new Team USA teammates will make a return trip to Colorado Springs June 16-24 for a training camp before heading overseas.


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