Evan Turner is the Nation's Best Player—But He Isn't the Greatest Buckeye Ever
Evan Turner does not get enough credit in today’s media. He gets plenty of exposure, but when compared to John Wall or even Wesley Johnson he is dwarfed. His importance to this Ohio State squad is immeasurable, however.
The Buckeyes went 4-3 without Turner in the lineup earlier this season, which included going 0-2 in conference play. If lowly Indiana had not come up on the schedule they would have gone 0-3. Neither of the two conference losses were even close, especially the 65-43 loss to Wisconsin.
That Ohio State team was lifeless without its leader. They had no heart and no drive, and if Turner’s injury were more serious they would be lucky to see the Sweet 16 in the NIT let alone the NCAA.
Evan Turner came back better than ever. He is averaging 20 points and 9.2 rebounds on the season leading the Big Ten in both categories. His six assists per game and 1.8 steals a game had him finishing second in the conference. It also shows he has completed his transformation from small forward to point guard.
The fact Turner changed positions and still won Player of the Year is astonishing in itself. He is the only player in Ohio State history to have more than one triple double; the only other player to even record a triple double for Ohio State was Dennis Hopson.
Turner is good; he has earned every honor and award this year. His old school, hard-nosed play has many Ohio State fans anointing him the greatest Buckeye basketball player ever with or without the media’s approval. Jerry Lucas might have something to say about that argument.
Evan Turner has amazing ball handling skills, much like Lucas did during his time with the Buckeyes and in the NBA. Both players can slash to the lane, create separation for jump shots, and play aggressive defense. Jerry Lucas was more of a pure shooter than Turner is, but both have exceptional shooting.
Evan Turner has 16 double-doubles on the season, which is an impressive stat considering the time he missed. That stat pales in comparison with Jerry Lucas’s season average of 26 double-doubles. Lucas, during his career at Ohio State once had 38 consecutive double-doubles.
Jerry Lucas averaged 500-plus points a season during his three years with the Buckeyes. Turner has had two 500-point seasons, and should match that stat if he comes back for his senior year. Evan Turner has averaged 15.2 points in his career at Ohio State. He has only been a full time starter for the last two seasons; using those two seasons only his average jumps to 18.8 points a game. Jerry Lucas averaged 24.3 points a game for his career at Ohio State.
Lucas once scored 48 points against the Michigan State Spartans back in 1964; Turner has scored 32 points twice this season to set his career mark. Turner has a .499 shooting percentage for the Buckeyes, Lucas finished with .624. Both are impressive scorers, but Lucas dominated the game.
Evan Turner does it all for the Buckeyes this season, much like Lucas did back in the 1960’s. Both have tenacious rebounding ability, but even Turner’s 9.2 per game cannot compare to Lucas’s 17.2 a game. Jerry Lucas pulled down 30 rebounds in a game for three consecutive games as a Buckeye.
Comparing Evan Turner’s NBA potential or even Wall’s and Wesley’s to Jerry Lucas ‘s NBA career is a bit premature. None of the three are even close when comparing the college stats. Some argue that the game has changed, and yes it has but Lucas was on another level. Lucas was the NBA rookie of the year, and that is something any of the three can achieve to get their careers started in the right direction.
Evan Turner is more valuable to Ohio State than Wall is to Kentucky or Johnson is to Syracuse. Kentucky and Syracuse would still be in the NCAA tournament without those respective players, Ohio State would not. The Buckeyes are an NIT at best without Turner, something that was brutally apparent during Turner’s absence from the line up.
Turner’s accolades and honors this season are well deserved. He has been a great player for Ohio State in his three years with the team. Has he earned the Naismith Player of the Year trophy this year? Yes. Is he the greatest player to ever come out of Ohio State? No he is not even close.