Former UA, NBA player Rooks on Turner’s situation: “Sad where sports has gone”by Javier Morales on Jul. 12, 2012, under Sports
Javier Morales took first place in the 2010 Arizona Press Club’s Metro Sports Reporting category. For a different look at University of Arizona sports, check out Javier’s unique Web site: WILDABOUTAZCATS.net
Former Arizona center Sean Rooks, who went from being a redshirt player in Lute Olson’s program to a 12-year NBA veteran, knows what it takes to work from the ground up.
After learning Wednesday about former Arizona guard Josiah Turner’s decision to turn pro instead of transferring to SMU, Rooks believes today’s young players dangerously believe they can shoot right to the top. Turner told Yahoo Sports on Wednesday that he wants to pursue his dream of a pro career — starting in either the NBA’s Developmental League or overseas — rather than continue his collegiate career.
“(It’s) sad where sports has gone,” Rooks wrote on a thread on my Facebook page. “Kids have the 40-inch vertical (leap), the killer cross over … Everybody wants to be a PRO for all the wrong reasons but yet can’t make it through a year of school … (they) think it’s that easy to adapt to a professional life.”
Rooks not only survived but flourished in the NBA despite a second-round selection in the 1992 draft. According to Basketball-Reference.com, Rooks earned $17.2 million for seven different NBA teams. And that does not include the two years (2005 and 2006) in Spain that concluded his career.
He went from averaging 5.6 points and 2.8 rebounds as a redshirt freshman in 1988-89 — Sean Elliott’s senior season — to posting 16.3 points and 6.9 rebounds a game as a senior in 1991-92. A four-year college career is becoming the exception rather than the norm for NBA-bound players these days.
The 2012 NBA draft last month included 66 early entries, 49 of them collegiate underclassmen. Only four seniors were selected in the first round of this year’s draft.
Turner announced his intention to transfer to SMU after completing a tumultuous freshman season at Arizona, one in which included alcohol and marijuana use being “big issues”, he told Yahoo Sports.
Arizona coach Sean Miller disciplined Turner, a 6-foot-2-inch point guard, on three separate occasions, including a permanent dismissal for the remainder of the season before the Pac-12 tournament started. Turner was arrested in Tucson in April on suspicion of extreme DUI. This occurred three weeks after Arizona announced Turner, a Rivals.com Five-Star recruit out of high school, was transferring from the program.
Turner decided to turn pro despite averaging only 6.8 points and 2.4 assists in his lone season with Arizona.
“They must think being a pro is simple,” Rooks wrote about young players with raw potential such as Turner. “I mean, how hard can it be to buy cars, jewelry and pop bottles for the homies and the women?
“They got it all figured out. (With) the direction he is going, he will be LUCKY if he is smart enough to go back to school.”
Rooks, who has spoken to prospects about making right decisions at various high school all-star events, ended his opinion in the Facebook post by writing “smh”, which stands for “shaking my head”.
In the Yahoo Sports article, Turner said he has matured from his experience at Arizona.
“My maturity level now is way higher than it was when I was in Arizona,” Turner told Yahoo. “I was young. I made mistakes. I just learned a lot from last year thinking about where I could be at right now and thinking about the things I did last year. It was all stupid.”
I echo Rooks’ thoughts on this subject of young players being overzealous about a potential pro career. It falls in line with Miller’s comments about success being earned — not being an entitlement — when he took over the Arizona program in 2009. I hope that Turner’s decision to forsake a college career for a roll-of-the-dice shot at pro ball is not another one of his life-changing mistakes.
As expected former Arizona forward Derrick Williams is slated to play for Minnesota in the upcoming NBA Summer League in Las Vegas (which runs Friday through July 22). The only other confirmed former Wildcat on a roster is Kyle Fogg with Houston. Brendon Lavender Tweeted recently that he was set to join Atlanta’s team in the summer league but his name does not appear on the roster.
Former Santa Rita guard Terrell Stoglin — the leading scorer in the ACC last season with Maryland — was also expected to participate in the summer league with Toronto, but his name also does not appear on the official roster.
This does not mean Lavender and Stoglin will not compete. They can be replacements for injured players or no-shows.
Make sure you read TucsonCitizen.com and WILDABOUTAZCATS.net starting on Friday as I will rank Arizona’s Top 50 games in the football program’s history. The ranking will coincide with the countdown toward the season. The No. 50 game will be published on Friday, which will be 50 days from the season-opening kickoff between Arizona and Toledo at Arizona Stadium.