Mark your calendars, Buckeyes fans. On February 16 against the Michigan Wolverines, the former 2009-10 Associated Press and No. 2 NBA draft pick in the 2010 NBA Draft will become the fifth Buckeye to have this number gracing the rafters of Value City Arena, the announced on Saturday January 30.
The banner featuring Turner's 21 jersey number is set to be unveiled at halftime of the Ohio State-Michigan game, per a release.
Throughout the long-tenured history of Buckeye basketball, it may come as a surprise to some that there aren't more jerseys retired in the rafters. One person not surprised was head coach Thad Matta, who played a pivotal role in developing Turner on and off the court.
"That's unbelievable for our program because the one thing here, it's very difficult to get your jersey hung in the rafters," Matta said in an interview with elevenwarriors.com. "As I reflect on Evan and just when he started here and what he's done from Day 1 to where he is today and what he meant to Ohio State basketball, I could not be happier."
Turner certainly made Matta and the Buckeye faithful happy during his three years in Columbus. The Boston Celtics guard entered his collegiate campaign after finishing as the 49th-ranked player in the 2007 recruiting class. A four-star recruit per Rivals, the Winchester, Illinois native spurned the hometown Fighting Illini, Iowa and Wisconsin in favor of attending Ohio State. At only 175 pounds in his senior season, Turner had the odds stacked against him for sustained success at the collegiate level. The 6-7 guard failed to listen to those who slighted his slender frame and became one of the most prolific players in Buckeye history.
More often than not, player development plays a major role in separating the great, legendary players from the average, normal student-athlete. Turner was not a normal student athlete during his time at Ohio State.
It was a bit of an adjustment process for Turner his freshman year. In 37 games, Turner averaged 8.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per game, per sports-reference.com. With guards Jamar Butler and David Lighty ahead of him and years, Turner utilized his upperclassmen teammates to learn the game and develop a versatile skill set without rushed expectations.
His sophomore year became the year that catapulted him into the national spotlight with averages of 17.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and four assists per game in four less games than his freshman campaign. Turner improved his efficiency in the scoring column, as he increased his three-point and free throw percentages.
By his junior season, Turner worked his way to the Associated Press Player of the Year award with jaw-dropping numbers of 20.4 points, 9.2 rebounds and six assists per game. He did it all. His offensive repertoire was so advanced for the collegiate game, he bypassed his final year of eligibility and became the number two overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.
One of the more impressive facets to Turner's collegiate play was his ability to impact the game outside of scoring. In Ohio State's opening game in the 2010 NCAA tournament, Turner struggled mightily from the field and focused on rebounding and setting up opportunities for guards Jon Diebler and William Buford - Turner hauled in 10 rebounds and dished out five assists.
It's not easy getting your jersey placed in the rafters of a collegiate athletic venue is hard enough, let only nearly impossible at Ohio State - Jerry Lucas, Jimmy Jackson, John Havlicek and Garry Bradds were the four to have their jersey hung in the rafters before Turner. Ironically for Michigan fans, Ohio State is holding this ceremony against the program that was on the receiving end of Turner's most memorable shot.