Myles Turner Decision: Ranking the Best Fits for 5-Star Big Man
The top remaining player in college basketball's 2014 recruiting class will finally find a home on Wednesday afternoon when Myles Turner announces which school he will be attending this fall.
There are seven schools left on his list of choices, per 247Sports: Duke, Kansas, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Southern Methodist, Texas and Texas A&M.
At 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Turner will put on a hat from one of those programs on national television (ESPNU). More than 85 percent of the involved fanbases will be furious with his decision.
Based on how well he would fit into the rotation at each of those schools and how much of a mutually beneficial relationship it would seem to create, we took the liberty of spending a portion of one day ranking the options that Turner has been mulling over for nearly two years.
We're sure he'll thank us later.
7. Oklahoma State Cowboys
The picture above is from December 17, 2013, and it was roughly the last time Oklahoma State had anything to smile about.
Life was good in late December, as the Cowboys celebrated nine consecutive weeks ranked in the AP Top 10. But then the wheels came off.
Michael Cobbins tore his Achilles on December 30, causing him to miss the rest of the season. Stevie Clark was arrested two days later for marijuana possession, and he was dismissed from the team a little over a month after that following a second arrest. Then, of course, we had the whole Marcus Smart fiasco on February 8.
What could have been a fantastic season ended with a whimper when the Cowboys were eliminated in the second round of the NCAA tournament by Gonzaga in a painfully officiated game.
Two weeks after the 2013-14 season ended, the 2014-15 season took its first blow when Brian Williams announced he would be transferring. On April 25, ESPN 100-recruit Jared Terrell received a release from his letter of intent to play next season for Oklahoma State.
It has been a long four months in Stillwater.
Signing Turner could be the sign of something bright, but it also doesn't seem too probable—especially considering Travis Ford just signed a 7'1" junior-college transfer less than a week ago.
The Cowboys could definitely still use some help in the frontcourt, but why would Turner try to revive a struggling program when each of the other six schools on the list gives him a better chance to succeed?
6. Kansas Jayhawks
Even with Joel Embiid gone to the NBA, where in the world would Turner fit in Kansas' rotation?
Cliff Alexander is one of the top players in this year's recruiting class. He could very well be the next Jared Sullinger or Thomas Robinson. Even if he doesn't immediately start at power forward, there's no question he'll average at least 25 minutes per game this season.
Then you have Perry Ellis, whose underrated quality can only possibly be explained by people assuming we're still talking about Perry Jones III. Ellis joined Cole Aldrich and the Morris twins as the only Jayhawks in the past nine seasons to have averaged better than 13 points per game while shooting better than 52 percent from the field. He, too, deserves at least 25 minutes per game.
And what of Jamari Traylor? Are we to assume that his 17-point, 14-rebound game in the NCAA tournament against Eastern Kentucky didn't earn him an increase on the 16.1 minutes per game he averaged last season?
It's not like Kansas is in much of a position to be running a three-big-man offense, either, with Kelly Oubre, Wayne Selden Jr., Naadir Tharpe, Andrew White III, Frank Mason, Conner Frankamp and Brannen Greene needing minutes in the backcourt.
Adding Turner to the equation doesn't solve the problem of having to somehow find enough minutes for everyone.
Of all the schools on the list, Kansas is the one where he would be least likely to have a starting job. I somehow doubt he waited this long to declare just to become a reserve player.
5. Ohio State Buckeyes
A little over a month ago, Ohio State would have been in the top three without question.
Though the Buckeyes have a pair of returning big men in Amir Williams and Trey McDonald, they have never been overwhelmingly committed to playing either of them. They combined to average just over 35 minutes per game last year as juniors, but that clearly had more to do with the lack of other big men than it did improved play from their first two seasons.
Even if they wanted to give a good chunk of minutes to their soon-to-be departing seniors, the Buckeyes could have spent the year grooming Turner to dominate as a sophomore.
They certainly didn't have any other in-house options for the 2015-16 season. Marc Loving (6'7") and Kam Williams (6'2") were the only freshmen or sophomores on last year's roster. They do have a trio of fantastic incoming recruits in Jae'Sean Tate (6'5"), D'Angelo Russell (6'4") and Keita Bates-Diop (6'7"), but they clearly aren't the answer at power forward or center.
When they picked up Anthony Lee as an immediately eligible transfer from Temple on March 29, it became apparent they weren't planning on having Turner in town next season. Two weeks later, they grabbed Trevor Thompson from Virginia Tech, solving their no-big-men-for-the-future dilemma.
Ohio State could absolutely still sign Turner and make it work, but the Buckeyes seem to have moved on from assuming that's going to happen. We might as well do the same.
4. Texas A&M Aggies
Texas A&M just seems out of place on this list, doesn't it?
If this was a multiple-choice exam and you saw the Aggies listed as an option, you might pick them but only because it seems so wrong that it has to be right.
To be fair, though, we've seen our fair share of quality recruits take their talents to College Station. DeAndre Jordan spent his one college season at Texas A&M back in 2007-08, and the Aggies landed a total of eight ESPN 100 recruits over the following five seasons. They didn't sign any highly rated freshmen this past season, but they did get a great junior-college transfer in Jamal Jones.
Also, no other team on Turner's list is more desperately in need of a center. Kourtney Roberson is a quality power forward, but Dylan Johns is the only real center on the roster—and he averaged a whopping 4.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per 40 minutes last year.
Without Turner, Texas A&M might compete for third place in the SEC. With him, the Aggies would probably come in second place and would at least challenge Kentucky in one of the games they play against the Wildcats.
But even in a year in which one of the top recruits (Emmanuel Mudiay) is going to an SMU program that was basically chopped liver before hiring Larry Brown two years ago, Texas A&M just seems a little too far-fetched for Turner.
Besides, if he wants to stay close to home and help put a relatively unheralded program in the national spotlight, he should go to SMU where he and his team are far more likely to succeed.
With all due respect to Billy Kennedy and company, all I'm saying is that waiting five months to make a nationally televised decision and choosing Texas A&M would be the equivalent of LeBron James having chosen the Toronto Raptors during The Decision.
3. Duke Blue Devils
I'm well aware that Duke has Jahlil Okafor.
More importantly, Turner is well aware of that, too, and he still has Duke in his final seven. Thus, let's at least explore the studio space here.
Duke's backcourt is more loaded than a baked potato from your local steakhouse, but the depth in the frontcourt is a bit lacking. Aside from the incoming Okafor (6'11") and Justise Winslow (6'6"), the only players on the roster taller than 6'4" are Semi Ojeleye (6'7"), Amile Jefferson (6'9") and Marshall Plumlee (7'0")—and Ojeleye and Plumlee played sparingly last season.
Jefferson and Okafor starting in the post works just great, but where does Duke turn when those guys need a break or get into foul trouble? Playing small ball is always an option—and arguably a better one than banking on getting quality minutes from Plumlee on any given night—but getting Turner would be the best option of all.
Duke has always been at its best with a stretch 4 on the court (Ryan Kelly, Kyle Singler, Shane Battier, etc.), but what about a stretch 5 playing the 4? Feel free to call him a power forward or a second center, but Turner has the ability to step out to the perimeter to get his buckets.
Having him and Okafor in the starting rotation with Jefferson coming off the bench feels like the type of lineup that might actually be capable of slaying the mighty Kentucky.
It would be an incredible fit for Duke, but it might not be great for Turner's NBA prospects.
There isn't much demand at the next level for 7' guys who prefer to play on the wing. There's a reason we inevitably end up comparing every tall guy with a three-point stroke to Dirk Nowitzki, and that's because he's virtually the only marketable one.
Anthony Davis was a great three-point shooter in high school, but he abandoned that aspect of his game in college to focus on his interior game, becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft. Turner probably wouldn't be challenged to do the same if he has Okafor to handle all the grunt work.
2. Texas Longhorns
At Texas, Turner would be in virtually the same position he would be in at Duke, with the added bonus that he'll be about 1,000 miles closer to home.
With Cameron Ridley already the man at center, going to Texas would be the safe play that allows him to stick to his "soft" game as opposed to developing into a lottery-worthy center.
The Longhorns did not lose a single player from last year's team, and their frontcourt was already quite crowded. Ridley, Jonathan Holmes and Connor Lammert all averaged better than 20 minutes per game, while Prince Ibeh added 13.6 minutes per game of his own.
Those are four guys between 6'8"-6'10" who would have to further divvy up already thin slices of playing-time pie if Turner came to town.
And it's not as if we're talking about no-name players who share playing time because Rick Barnes can't decide which ones are good enough to play. All four were ESPN 100 recruits who would get snatched up in a New York minute if they hit the transfer market.
Many have been speculating that Texas is one of the favorites to land Turner because it's the "hometown team." Turner even said in an interview with Jeff Borzello of CBSSports.com that playing for Texas would be nice because, "It's in my backyard."
He must have an absolutely massive backyard, because Austin is more than 200 miles away from where he's going to high school. Meanwhile, Dallas is a mere 23 miles from Euless, and it just so happens to be the home of what should be the real favorite to land Turner.
1. Southern Methodist Mustangs
Southern Methodist is going to have a great season with or without Myles Turner.
The Mustangs are losing a couple of moderately important players from a team that just barely missed making the tournament, but they're adding a top recruit in Emmanuel Mudiay and getting another year of experience for young-but-crucial players such as Ben Moore, Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy.
They're already the trendy just-outside-the-top-10 pick in all of the way-too-early Top 25 rankings.
If they can add Turner to the mix, though, they might jump into the top five and earn some consideration for 40-0 preseason t-shirts in that suddenly depleted American conference. (Connecticut should still be good, but Cincinnati and Memphis lost everyone, and Louisville is now in the ACC.)
Yanick Moreira and Cannen Cunningham are battling for the honor of starting center, though neither averaged so much as 15 minutes per game last year as juniors.
Turner would take the center position at SMU and transform it from a potential Achilles' heel into a bona fide strength. Kennedy would handle the bulk of the heavy work, but he's not as much of a dominant force in the paint as a Jahlil Okafor or a Cameron Ridley—thus necessitating that Turner become more of a true center, though not in a spot where he is the team's only post presence.
Not only is it a great fit for both Turner and the school, but as mentioned on the previous slide, SMU is also his actual hometown team. The Moody Coliseum is less than half an hour from where Turner grew up.
If the team's basketball program hadn't been a toxic disaster throughout the entirety of Turner's formative years, he probably would have chosen the Mustangs six months ago.
Kerry Miller covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @kerrancejames.
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