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Point guard Josiah Turner leaves Arizona after one troubled season

Josiah Turner

Josiah Turner has taken his last shot for Arizona. Photo by Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

The Josiah Turner era at point guard lasted one troubled season at Arizona.

The Wildcats announced Wednesday that Turner, who ended the season under indefinite suspension, missing the final four games, has decided to transfer to a school to be decided.

“Josiah made a great deal of progress as a student-athlete in his year with us,” UA coach Sean Miller said in a statement. “He will finish this semester and leave in good academic standing. All of us at Arizona wish him well in his future.”

Turner arrived as the most-hyped member of UA’s four-man freshman class, rated the nation’s second-best high school point guard and the No. 10 overall prospect by Rivals.com.

Now, half of that class is gone — with post player Sidiki Johnson not even lasting the first semester before leaving.

There was talk before the season — certainly not from the UA camp, however — that Turner was a one-and-done player at UA, ready to dazzle and jump to the NBA.

This is a different kind of one-and-done.

Turner had trouble gaining traction from the start, landing in the doghouse when Miller didn’t play him at all in the third game of the season. Miller said at the time: “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.”

Turner was then suspended for a violation of team rules before Arizona played at Florida on Dec. 7, a game the Cats lost in overtime.

Later, Miller would call that the “light coming on” moment for Turner, who improved in small steps and eventually regained his starting spot before the second suspension, this one coming before the Pac-12 tournament.

He was rarely great (other than sometimes showing off his skills with entry passes with either hand), and he ended up averaging 6.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists. He showed a propensity to beat his man off the dribble but wasn’t always able to finish. He has much work to do on his outside shot after making only 7 of 31 3-point attempts.

Where he will work on that shot after his transfer … who knows?

“I learned a lot in my year at Arizona and would like to thank my coaches, teammates and the fans for all of their support,” Turner said in a statement.

For the Cats — who appear to be the early frontrunner to be the Pac-12 favorites next season — this means that sophomore Nick Johnson likely will play a lot of point guard next season. Johnson, a shooting guard by trade, handled heavy minutes at the point late last season when Jordin Mayes was injured and then Turner was suspended.

How about a starting lineup of Johnson, Kevin Parrom, Solomon Hill, Angelo Chol and one of the freshman big men (Grant Jerrett, Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski)?

Turner’s departure, for now, squares up Arizona’s scholarship situation.

The Wildcats were one over their limit of 12 with the recent additions of junior college post player Matt Korcheck and Duquesne transfer point guard T.J. McConnell. There could be more maneuvering — Mayes and senior post Kyryl Natyazhko have been mentioned as possible transfer possibilities — although Mayes’ playing-time situation improves with Turner out of the way.

If somebody else leaves, Miller could try to bring in another guard in what is now a six-man recruiting class. He has one eligible guard in this class, although the 6-1 Gabe York is more of a shooter and scorer than a point guard.

This marks the second consecutive season after which Arizona lost its primary point guard. MoMo Jones left after the 2011-12 season, perhaps in part because of Turner’s impending arrival, although family reasons were a consideration, too, and the NCAA allowed him to be immediately eligible at Iona.

The point guard position will stabilize in the 2013-14 season when McConnell is eligible as a junior, but next year, Miller will have his fourth starting point guard in four seasons at Arizona. Mayes did start 16 games last season, but it wouldn’t have been that many if Turner had arrived with a better attitude and work ethic.

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