Arizona Class of 2011 guard Josiah Turner averaging less points but more smilesby Javier Morales on Feb. 09, 2011, under Sports
At our partner site WILDABOUTAZCATS.com: Check out a YouTube video of a thunderous putback slam by Josiah Turner since he joined Quality Education Academy in North Carolina
Less scoring totals is a questionable reason why Josiah Turner and Sacramento High School coach Derek Swafford had a rocky relationship that led to Turner leaving the team and Swafford ultimately forcing him out.
Turner, a high-profile Class of 2011 point guard who has signed a national letter of intent with Arizona, was averaging nearly five points less a game — 22 this season after 27 as a junior — before Swafford dismissed him last month. Turner originally left the team while contemplating his future.
Four games into his stint at Quality Education Academy in Winston-Salem, N.C., Turner is averaging 15.7 points for a 21-4 team that includes more major-college talent than Sacramento.
Turner is sharing time with Wake Forest-bound Anthony Fields at the point-guard position with QEA. In Saturday’s 89-41 over the Philadelphia (Pa.) Franklin Learning Center in Atlantic City, N.J., Turner and Fields each recorded seven assists. Turner scored 13 points and Fields had five.
The QEA experience is more to Turner’s liking, according to those familiar with his recruitment, because of the exposure to more talent with a high-profile prep program.
The experience is similar to what he’ll get at Arizona, where he will share the responsibilities with talented players who have spent more time within coach Sean Miller‘s system.
In a sense, Turner adapting to QEA, its coach Isaac Pitts, and the established talent already in place this season, is a precursor to him becoming a Wildcat and fitting in with Lamont “MoMo” Jones and Jordin Mayes, for example.
Aside from Fields, QEA’s other major-college prospects are shooting guard Charles McKinney (DePaul commit) and Sir’Dominic Pointer (St. John’s).
It has been reported that Arizona has offered a scholarship to another QEA player — 6-11 senior center Lekan Ajayi — but that has yet to be confirmed. Rivals.com is reporting that Florida, Loyola Marymount, Seton Hall and Wake Forest are the schools that have offered Ajayi a scholarship.
Arizona’s frontcourt recruiting focus for the Class of 2011 is San Diego Hoover High School forward-center Angelo Chol, who will announce his decision next Thursday after visiting the Washington campus this weekend. Alabama, Kansas and North Carolina are also possibilities.
If scoring, or less of it, is not the reason why Turner had reservations of playing for Swafford, what is the reason? Turner and his mother Doris Ward have understandably kept their comments private about the situation.
My guess: Turner and Ward were not pleased with how Turner was utilized within Swafford’s balanced system. Turner was the obvious phenom of Sacramento’s team. The only other talent with Sacramento is Santa Clara-bound Robert Garrett, a 6-11 center.
From all accounts, Swafford would rather allow the 12th player on the roster get his share of minutes in the fourth quarter than have Turner continue his exploits. That’s fine if the focus is on building balance.
But this is a kid’s life — charmed life, actually.
Mike Bibby‘s head coach at Phoenix Shadow Mountain High School — the accomplished Jerry Conner — never tried to step on Bibby’s toes. He understood Bibby was a talent deserving free reign. That assurance and trust not only allowed Bibby to set state scoring records but also enabled Conner’s team to win the 1996 Class 5A state title game.
Bibby always played within the team framework anyway. After watching Turner play last summer for the talent-laden AAU Oakland Soldiers — and now observing how Turner is playing well alongside Fields at QEA — it is obvious that Turner is a team-first guy as well.
Many UA followers have questioned whether Turner is a character risk because of his departure from Sacramento. Why? Because Swafford’s agenda did not mix with his?
Let Turner’s lower 15.3 scoring average but appreciative role since his arrival at QEA be the answer to the character question. And let’s face it: Turner had to remove himself from the circus at Sacramento to focus on his education and concentrate on qualifying academically to attend Arizona.
In a recent Facebook post, Turner wrote of his experience at faraway Winston-Salem: “I been solid, keepin it smooth.”
Solid and smooth is all Miller could ask for at this juncture of Turner’s continued development as a player and student.