With over 5.5 million people in the Houston area, there is bound to be a sleeper in the basketball recruiting circles. Ray Turner, a 6-foot-8 forward from Jones High School, is it in the class of 2009.
Turner is off to a hot start for his Jones (10-3) club and recorded a triple earlier in the year, posting gaudy numbers (37 points 23 rebounds and over 10 blocked shots) in a win.
Even with numbers like that, Turner is still a sleeper amongst his peers in Houston. But the believers are starting to come around. The rising big man is humble, quiet and very reserved but he said there is still a little more up his sleeve.
"I think there is more to see," Turner said.
"Hard work and just being in the gym everyday," Turner said matter-of-factly.
Turner is just a baby when it comes to basketball. This is his first year with a high school team and he's off to a hot start. According to his summer coach and basketball mentor Keith Perry, the light is starting to shine with the young Houston native.
"His God-given talent and athleticism is off the charts," Perry said. "I was there the first day so I know how far he's come. He's in the gym working out everyday. To me, he took off when he starting to work hard. He's not going to tell you but he does 500 push ups a night and 500 sit ups a night. He'll jump ropes for 20 minutes every night and that's with me not being on his butt."
Sounds like a scene from the boxing reality show The Contender. And lately Turner isn't pulling any punches. His production, particularly on the glass, has caught the attention of recruiters.
"Nebraska, Marquette, basically the Big 12 teams because we are in Houston and that is a major recruiting stop for them," Perry said. "They will all send out the letters and stuff. There are no written offersâ€¦yet. The recruiting process is open right now," Perry said. "I haven't really committed to anything. He's just been getting the letters like anyone else."
UCLA came in this week to take a look, too. A year ago, recruiting was non-existent. In fact, Perry says Turner was thought to be non-existent as a player.
"Nobody on the national scene knows about him because he doesnâ€™t come from the programs that everybody runs out to see," Perry said. "I want to go on the record and say that nobody from Houston would give him a chance. I called people and told them that I have a kid, would you take a look at him and they wouldn't take a look at him."
For Turner, that has been part of his motivation this season.
"It fuels it 100 percent," Turner said. "Maybe more than that."
And maybe he'll stop being considered a sleeper by the end of the season.