Arizona Wildcats point guard Josiah Turner is suspended again, which is a third strike.
Is he out?
At this point, the chance that Turner will never again wear the cardinal and navy (or special Nike “platinum”) seems like a very real possibility. Coach Sean Miller on Wednesday put the freshman on indefinite suspension for a violation of team rules on the eve of Arizona’s quarterfinal appearance in the Pac-12 tournament.
So, nice timing, Josiah.
“I am disappointed in Josiah for his actions,” Miller said in a statement.
“Unfortunately this suspension comes at a time of great excitement and opportunity for our team. However, the standards of our program will not be compromised under any circumstances. Hopefully, Josiah will learn a valuable lesson from this experience.”
This is the third time Miller has tried to deliver a valuable lesson to Turner.
The first was in the third game of the season, when Miller didn’t play Turner at all, using the bench as motivation. At the time, Miller said: “He’s trying to find his way from where he left high school … on and off the court, making good decisions, working hard every day.”
Said Turner of that discipline: “It made me realize what was going on, and that coach Sean Miller don’t play around.”
And, yet, Turner continued to play around.
He was suspended for a violation of a team rules and did not travel with the team to Florida on Dec. 7. Arizona lost in overtime. A win over the Gators sure would look good on the NCAA Tournament resume right about now.
From that point — Miller called it Turner’s “light coming on moment” — the freshman incrementally improved and regained his starting role.
He hasn’t been great. He didn’t make the All-Pac-12 freshman team. He is averaging a humble 6.8 points and 2.4 assists. He has made only seven 3-point shots, not as many as Jesse Perry, the undersized 6-7 center with the awkward jumper.
Turner hasn’t played like his high school recruiting rankings suggested — the second-best point guard and the No. 10 overall prospect by Rivals.com. He is laughably far away from those predictions that he would be a one-and-done player, using Tucson as a layover on his way to the NBA.
That says a lot about what you should read into recruiting rankings, but that’s a different story.
Mostly, Turner was becoming … how should we say this? … useful. Solid. Looking ahead, you could project that with time, work ethic and a good attitude he would become very good in all facets of the game, not just with clever entry passes into the lane on the pick-and-roll.
Turner nearly has as many turnovers (60) as assists (70), and his biggest turnover might have been throwing away a chance to continue at Arizona rather than assisting his teammates in the postseason.
The reason for the latest violation of team rules hasn’t been disclosed, but Turner’s whole season smells like an over-inflated sense of entitlement — the kind of the attitude Miller has sought to eradicate from the program.
And now Turner isn’t even with the team in Los Angeles. A benching and two suspensions, the latest coming right before the most important game of the season? Yeah, that’s probably going over well with his teammates.
Miller has said Turner isn’t a “bad kid,” but the coach also isn’t the type to tolerate much nonsense, and Turner might have just overfilled the meter. And you wonder if Turner, who switched high schools halfway through his senior year, might have a wandering eye again.
On second thought, he might be one and done at Arizona after all.