There was a brief, inexplicable moment about a week ago, when something called a “splash page” appeared on the 76ers’ website. It wasn’t supposed to be there. But there it was. The page, which appeared for just a few seconds, identified Evan Turner as the Sixers’ choice with the No. 2 pick in tonight’s draft.
Never mind that similar pages had been prepared for several prospective candidates, and that the correct one, whoever it was, wasn’t supposed to see the light of day until the Sixers actually made their pick.
Turner’s, though, was the one that blinked at the public.
Well, it’s for real now. The Sixers have officially made Turner, the Ohio State guard, their choice. This was the only team for which Turner worked out, passing up an opportunity to work out for the Washington Wizards, who used the No. 1 overall pick to take Kentucky guard John Wall.
“It’s kind of hit me, but it’s still unreal,” Turner told the Columbus Dispatch on Wednesday night in New York, awaiting tonight’s selection. “I mean, I understand what’s about to happen, but just walking the streets and people going crazy for you, that’s a little different. But it’s what you work for.”
He also said, “some people scream out ‘Philly.’ Some people scream out my name.”
The Dispatch reported that Turner already has purchased a house for his mother, Iris James, and a Range Rover for himself. Asked how he could pay for these things before being drafted and signed, he said, “They know I’m good for it.”
Turner, who stands 6-5 3/4 barefoot and 6-7 in sneakers, averaged 20.4 points as a junior, then declared for early eligibility in the draft. He finished with a career scoring average of 15.0, shooting 50.2 percent from the floor and 36.2 percent from three-point distance. He led the Big Ten in scoring and rebounding (9.2) and was second in assists (6.0) and steals (1.7). He was the national player of the year according to various outlets, including being the winner of the John Wooden Award, Naismith Trophy and Oscar Robertson Trophy.
Turner, who played both backcourt positions at Ohio State, is expected to step into a Sixers backcourt with second-year man Jrue Holiday, backed by Lou Williams and either second-year man Jodie Meeks or veteran Willie Green.
Before tonight, the Sixers very carefully declined to name their pick. But coach Doug Collins did tell Turner “If you’re passionate and competitive, these fans will love you.”
Collins was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1973 draft, coming to the Sixers.
“I came in here after a 9-73 season,” he recalled. “Four years later, I was playing Portland in a world championship, [and that’s] how quickly things change.”
As for making a choice at No. 2, Collins said, “we’re looking for someone capable of starting and ready to produce.”
That would be Turner, who amassed 1,517 points in his three college seasons, adding in 414 assists and 159 steals.
-- Phil Jasner
Philadelphia Daily News