The Indiana Pacers’ first-round selection of Myles Turner raised the eyebrows of fans quietly hoping for someone either older or a product of one of college basketball’s blue-blood programs.
Only 19 and a one-and-done for the University of Texas, the 6-foot-11 forward comes up short on both counts.
What doesn’t show up in the case of the 11th selection in the 2015 NBA Draft — the only Longhorns player drafted by Indiana since joining the NBA in 1976 — is a maturity level that well exceeds Turner’s 19 years.
The versatile forward/center demonstrated this time and again during last week’s introductory news conference at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Seated between a basketball and state icon (team president Larry Bird), and the man who distributes court minutes (coach Frank Vogel), Turner came off sounding like a polished NBA veteran.
And while Turner looks forward to living in Indiana, he won’t be the first in his immediate family to make this claim.
Turner’s mother, Mary, spent much of her childhood living in Fort Wayne.
The Daily Journal sat down with Myles Turner, the seventh NBA lottery pick in University of Texas history, whose one season of college hoops resulted in averages of 10.1 points and 6.5 rebounds.
Q: You’re awfully poised for 19 years old. What or whom do you attribute that to?
A: I probably attribute that to my mother (Mary). At a young age she taught me to be very fluent the way I speak, be professional, look people in the eye, firm handshake … stuff like that. Make sure you open the door up for this lady. Do this, do that.
She always had me rolling.
Q: What NBA player, if any, did you most idolize while growing up?
A: Kevin Durant. I really liked him as a Texas guy. I always loved the way he carried himself on and off the floor. Just a class act. Really professional and a hell of a ballplayer.
Q: At what point during your freshman season at Texas did you think, “OK, I’m ready for the NBA”?
A: Probably toward the end of the (season). I was like, “It’s time to make this jump.” Once I started talking to my parents and those in my circle, they thought I had a good chance. They were OK with it.
Once your name is hot, you’ve got to go, man. If you’re in that whole discussion, you’ve got to take that opportunity.
Q: How did playing in the Big 12 Conference best prepare you for playing at the next level?
A: Just the fact that every night you’re going to play someone that’s really good. Even the lower teams like TCU and Texas Tech, they’ll give you a run for your money. They’ll just go out there and grind it out, and I think that’s really matured me.
Q: Had you ever been in Indiana before the pre-draft workout you had with the Pacers?
A: I’ve been to Fort Wayne before. I was probably 7 or 8 years old. Now I don’t remember a whole lot because I was so young, but I remember the area a bit. Definitely a lot different than Indianapolis.
Q: What have the Pacers told you your role is going to be as a rookie? Is it sit and watch, play a lot or let’s wait and see?
A: They haven’t really talked to me a whole bunch about it. I know they’re expecting me to come out and play some minutes because of the fact they don’t know what David West is doing or Roy Hibbert. I guess we’ll see in the months to come.
THE TURNER FILE
Name: Myles Turner
Born: Bedford, Texas
Family: Parents, David and Mary; sister, Mya, 12
High school: Trinity (Euless, Texas) (2014)
College: University of Texas (one season)
Did you know? Turner has a wingspan that measures 7-foot-4, which allowed him to average 2.6 blocks a game in his only season of college basketball … Big 12 Conference Freshman of the Year for 2014-15 season … 11th pick in the NBA Draft despite finishing last season as the Longhorns’ third-leading scorer.