By Bill Paterson
Highly recruited seniors Josiah Turner of Sacramento High and Darius Nelson and Ramon Eaton of Sheldon made verbal college basketball commitments today.
The 6-foot-3 Turner, considered the No. 2 point guard and No. 10 overall prospect in the Class of 2011 by Rivals.com, committed to Arizona after concluding an official visit to the Tucson school this morning.
Nelson, a 6-7, 250-pound wing, says he is headed to the University of Texas, El Paso, and Eaton, a 6-9, 195-pound forward, will play for Pepperdine.
Turner's commitment comes as a surprise because he kept insisting that he wouldn't make his final decision until taking an official visit to Kansas on Oct. 15. The Jayhawks were viewed as front-runners in landing the area's hottest basketball recruit since the Bill Cartwright days.
Sac High coach Derek Swafford said Turner, who spent a hectic spring and summer playing Amateur Athletic Union ball in front of recruiters across the country and had already taken an official visit to Louisville, is ready to focus on his final high school season.
"He's been traveling more than the pros," Swafford said. "Going here and there every weekend, that's a lot for a young mind. We talked earlier this week. He said he was a little fatigued and tired, that he wanted to get it over with."
The decision by Nelson and Eaton to play at different colleges also was a surprising twist.
The cousins have seemingly been joined at the hip since their AAU youth playing days and as impact varsity players at Sheldon since their freshmen seasons.
Nelson thinks he'll get a chance to be an immediate impact player for UTEP and former NBA coach Tim Floyd, in his first season at UTEP.
"I'm going to have the opportunity to play right away because they are senior dominated this season," Nelson said. "I love their style of play, and Coach Floyd is a very good coach."
Nelson said he visited the El Paso campus on Aug. 27 and had a home visit from Floyd last Sunday. But Nelson, who also seriously considered Oklahoma, Cincinnati and Washington State, said he spent a restless week pondering his decision.
He twice consulted older brother DeMarcus Nelson, a former Sheldon and Vallejo star who played at Duke and with the Golden State Warriors.
"DeMarcus had some teammates who have played for coach Floyd," he said. "But it wasn't an easy decision, not with programs like Oklahoma interested in me. I did a lot of tossing and turning this week."
Although he said he also received an offer from UTEP, Eaton thinks playing at Pepperdine will be a better fit for his game.
"I kept going back and forth," said Eaton, who had an in-home visit from Waves' associate head coach Marty Wilson on Tuesday and visited the Malibu campus Friday and Saturday. "Pepperdine's style of play suits me better. And the campus is real beautiful."
Verbal commitments are non-binding. The early NCAA letter-of-intent signing period for basketball starts Nov. 10.