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Texas lands Turner

By Jared L. Christopher

McClatchy-Tribune

EULESS, Texas -- Myles Turner, the nation's No. 2 senior, committed to the University of Texas at a nationally televised announcement Wednesday at Trinity High School.

The 7-foot center chose the Longhorns over Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, SMU and Texas A&M.

Sitting at a table at midcourt in the Trinity gym, flanked by his family and coaches, Turner pulled a University of Texas fishing hat out of a black clam-shell box while announcing his decision. ESPNU televised the announcement.

With the commitment, the Longhorns, who return all of their players from a season ago, can be seriously considered as national title contenders.

With center Cameron Ridley and small forward Jonathan Holmes returning, the addition of Turner at power forward could be the finishing touch for the Longhorns, who earned an NCAA Tournament berth last season without a senior on the roster.

Turner was quite a catch for UT coach Rick Barnes, who a season ago was rumored to be on the chopping block.

"Everything just seemed right," Turner said about choosing Texas. "Honestly, I didn't know until (Tuesday) morning. I had been going back and forth in my mind, but that morning, when I woke up, I just new and I had peace."

The outside pressures took its toll on the family leading up to the announcement. Myles' father, David Turner, who works the second shift at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, said the family spent long hours talking over the decision.

"There were a few nights when they would come up to my job and meet me for dinner, just so we could talk things over," said David.

Mary Turner, Myles' mother, pointed to her 11-year-old daughter, Mya, as the voice of reason amid all the stress.

"We were all sitting around debating the merits of this school and that school, trying to figure our way through this, generally just stressed and Mya looked at Myles and said 'Myles, Trinity hadn't made the playoffs in a long time until you went there. If you go to Texas maybe you can do the same thing for them.'"

"It's almost like we were overanalyzing everything," Myles said. "When Mya said that, it was so innocent but so true. I do feel like I can come into Texas and make them better right away."

When Kansas center Joel Embiid declared for the NBA Draft last month, analysts across the country pointed to the Jayhawks as the most likely choice for Turner. Coach Bill Self visited the Turners.

"Oklahoma State came in and made a really big late push," David Turner said. "Coach Self and the Kansas staff were great, too. We really couldn't have made a wrong decision; it was really all about what was the best fit for Myles."

The recruitment process was kept under wraps for months. After a barrage of phone calls last fall, college coaches were instructed to direct all communication through his father, who carefully orchestrated the recruiting process. Only his immediate family members were privy to his choice before the announcement.

Within the last month, Turner made visits to Kansas, Duke, Oklahoma State, SMU, Texas and Texas A&M.

Turner's favorite NBA player, the one he models his game after, is Kevin Durant. So when Turner made a trip to Austin to watch a Texas practice last fall, the Texas coaching staff pulled out all the stops.

As Turner looked on from the bleachers, Durant walked into the gym. He motioned for Myles to come down on the court.

Wide-eyed and starstruck, Turner complied, joining Durant for a quick pick-up game.

As Turner watched Durant work a defender at the top of the key, he saw an opening along the baseline and flashed to the basket. Durant saw the cut and lobbed the streaking Turner a high pass just to the right of the rim.

Turner didn't miss a beat, catching the ball and finishing the alley-oop dunk just as he had a thousand times before. This one was different, though.

This one was from Durant.

After Turner's announcement, the students in the Trinity bleachers erupted into thunderous applause. Turner, who was given the school's Optimist Club Award for best all-around student, shook hands with his coaches and took pictures with friends as he worked his way through the sea of media, still wearing his burnt orange fishing hat.

"He means everything to me," David Turner said. "I'm so proud of the way he handled this whole situation. He's worked hard to get here but I'm more impressed with the man he is becoming. This is the end of a chapter, but Myles' ultimate journey is just beginning."