Josiah Turner’s suspension raises questions after NIT exit

When Sean Miller suspended his starting point guard just before the start of the NIT Tournament, he knew his team’s chances for post-season success took a big hit.  But even he couldn’t have expected a first-round exit.

The No. 1 seeded Arizona got beat by No. 8 Bucknell, 65-54.

We don’t know what team rules Josiah Turner violated to warrant Miller’s actions at such a critical time.  The head coach hasn’t made the details public.

But it had to be a serious situation to force his coach to take such drastic action.

Turner’s future with the program isn’t clear right now.   Miller would only say after the suspension that he and his talented freshman would be spending time together after the season to try to “get on the same page together.”  He was hoping this would be no more than a learning experience in his progression at Arizona.

But someone in that program had to see this coming a long time ago.  This is not the first time in just his first season that Turner had run afoul of team rules; he was suspended for a game in December as well.

Turner was a prized recruit for Miller, the first 5-star player he has ever snagged, either at Arizona or during his five years at Xavier, where he was the head coach prior to coming to Tucson.  He followed Turner, who was ranked the No. 2 point guard in the country, from gym to gym on the club circuit during the summers and was relentless in his pursuit.

The kid was his opportunity to return Arizona to its national prominence as “Point Guard U”.

But it was a twisted path that the young man took to the college game.

He was the team’s leading scorer as a senior at Sacramento High School when his coach dismissed him from the team for… you guessed it, “violating teams rules.”  This was after his mother threatened to move him from the school earlier in the season.

His dismissal was reportedly based on Turner’s inconsistent effort.  He missed practices and games, including a big game with the local rival, without prior permission.  And his after-the-fact excuses weren’t very good either.

But his first two years of high school were also plagued by movement among different schools.  He played at Cordova High School as a freshman, then jumped to Sacramento the next year.  Then he decided he would be better off at Sheldon High, but was there just eight days before the state’s governing body wouldn’t let him play basketball there.  So he returned to Sacramento.

He finished out his senior year at a high school basketball factory called Quality Education Academy in North Carolina, which is better known for its basketball prowess than its academic achievements.

The Arizona coaching staff kept an eye on what was going on with their prized commit, but hung in there with him.

Then another red flag popped up last summer when Turner made a last-minute decision to pull out of the USA Basketball U19 training camp.

He was one of just three high school players selected to attend the prestigious camp in Colorado, where he would have had a chance to play with some of the country’s top talent and have a chance to make the roster that would represent the USA at the U19 World Championships.  It should have been a great opportunity to begin his preparation for the college game.

That decision appeared to be just one more instance in a pattern of instability and lack of commitment demonstrated throughout his prep career.

Now that ugly pattern has surfaced once again.

Fortunately for Miller, he has what many consider the top recruiting class in the country coming in this summer.  Unfortunately for Turner, that makes him more of a dispensable asset.

Time to get his you-know-what together.