Josiah Turner is on the move yet again.
The former Sacramento Bee Player of the Year who attended four high schools and was set to attend his second college will now focus on a professional basketball career, the 6-foot-3 guard told Yahoo! Sports this week.
Turner hopes to sign a contract with a team overseas or with the NBA's Development League in hopes of reaching the NBA.
Turner was dismissed from the Sacramento High program in the middle of his senior season in 2010-11 for missing practices and games, and he was dismissed from the University of Arizona last season for myriad disciplinary reasons.
Turner, a five-star prep recruit, was the first player longtime NBA coach Larry Brown landed at SMU in April. Turner has been working out in Los Angeles since spring and never enrolled into SMU.
"I had to step back and reevaluate what my main goal and my dream was," Turner told Yahoo!. "My dream is to be a professional athlete in the NBA and I think this is what's going to bring me closer to it. In college, you get your degree and everything, but going pro is getting me closer to my dream and what I want to do in life."
Turner lost his starting point guard job at Arizona early in the season and was benched a total of five games for two separate suspensions. He was suspended for the remainder of the season on the eve of the Pacific 12 Conference Tournament and removed from the team.
In April, Turner was arrested by Arizona campus police for driving under the influence. He was also cited for being minor operating a vehicle wile intoxicated, and, according to the Arizona police report, Turner did not have his driver's licence, registration or proof of insurance of the car. In talking to Yahoo!, Turner admitted that alcohol and marijuana were "big issues" that troubled him at Arizona.
"My maturity level now is way higher than it was when I was in Arizona," Turner said. "I was young. I made mistakes. I just learned a lot from last year thinking about where I could be at right now and thinking about the things I did last year. It was all stupid."
Turner averaged 6.8 points and 2.4 assists at Arizona after a mixed prep career. He started as a freshman at Cordova High, switched to Sac High for his sophomore season. He was The Bee's Player of the Year his junior season when he averaged 27 points.
Turner then enrolled at Sheldon High for the start of his senior season, but returned to Sac High after nine days. Turner's goal of leading the Dragons to a state championship fizzled personally when he was removed from the team after just 10 games. He was allowed back into the program, with the understanding that his missed practices and games would result in what Sac High coach Derek Swafford deemed "consequences."
The reunion never materialized. Turner's family made it clear that they were exploring the idea of Turner attending a prep school on the East Coast. Turner wound up at Quality Education Academy in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
One of the issues at Sac High was Turner's disappointment and his mother's disgust that he wasn't shooting as much as a senior as he did as a junior. Turner's average dipped to 22 a game as a senior, but the team around him was better, more balanced. Swafford pulled starters when his team led by large amounts in the fourth quarter to provide depth and to not humiliate opponents and he refused to make exceptions.
Swafford and Turner's mother, Doris Ward, clashed over this repeatedly. Turner and Ward no longer speak to The Bee despite repeated efforts. Turner told Yahoo! this week he is ready to be a better role model.
"I just can't wait to show everyone that I'm a new person and that my maturity level is higher," he said. "I lost a lot of fans, a lot of younger people that looked up to me. I want to earn them all back and take advantage of the new start."
On a personal note, we always found Turner to be friendly, accommodating and insightful during his prep days, not to mention a terrific talent on the court. Late in his junior season, Turner spoke passionately about the structure and discipline provided by his Sac High coaches, particularly Swafford, and also of the pressure to succeed to satisfy his family, his friends, his school.
An NBA executive I spoke to off the record today said Turner has "talent and some skills, but he needs work, and he needs to grow up before anyone takes a serious look at him."
At 20, Turner has plenty of time. It's up to him.
What the Turner saga also tells us is that he nor his mother were never really satisfied with where they were, in high school or college. The answer was to bail out of practice to make a stand, or, ultimately, to move on. Patience works in this game, too. A lot.
- By Joe Davidson
On Twitter: sb_joedavidson