Freshman phenomenon Myles Turner shows maturity through first games of season

Evan Berkowitz

Welcome to The Myles Turner Show.

Where his signature bucket hats are in full force. Where disc jockeys rock the Frank Erwin Center. And where pyrotechnics get the night started.

The freshman forward ushered in a new era of Texas basketball — one he made official when he pulled out that burnt orange bucket hat, which he bought just for that moment in May.

“I had no idea it was going to blow up like that,” Turner said. “But it’s awesome to market a team that way.”

Even head coach Rick Barnes feels the change, acknowledging that Friday night’s crowd was the loudest for a season opener in his 17 years.

“He should have gotten a patent on the bucket hat — called it ‘Buckets,’” Barnes joked.

And the fans are already in love with the 6-foot-11-inch, ESPN No. 2 recruit from Trinity High School in Euless, Texas. After sophomore guard Kendal Yancy entered the game as the first sub of the season to what seemed like a golf clap, Turner entered in to a thunderous crowd.

When he made his first shot of the game — his sweet, sweet mid-range jumper — everyone was cheering. When he made his third in a row — another mid-ranger — to the tune of a North Dakota State timeout, the place erupted.

But don’t tell Turner he’s the biggest draw for Texas basketball since Kevin Durant. He doesn’t want to hear it. All he wants to talk about is anyone but himself.

After the opener, in which he scored 15 points, he still barely mentioned the positives.  

First, he thanked his teammates for getting him ready; then, he talked about everything he did wrong — leading the team in turnovers and needing “to get on the boards better and block some shots.” Finally, he thanked the fans.

The freshman is mature beyond his years.

When Turner sees someone lost on campus, he takes them to where they are going personally. He also is an excellent student.

“I got tremendous emails from people about Myles,” Barnes said.

Even on the basketball court, Turner’s maturity shows.

“Not in any way shape or form [does Turner look like a freshman],” said David Richman, North Dakota State head coach, after the opener. “He is mature for a freshman — no doubt.”

He is already averaging 12.5 points per game on 67 percent shooting and 83 percent from the free throw line, and, most noticeably, he is averaging at four blocks per game with only two games played.

“He’s come in, and he’s worked,” Barnes said. “He hasn’t done anything besides try to be a part of it. We know he is gifted.”

Things are only looking up from here.

“He will get better each game because he’s passionate about being great,” Barnes said.

The next step will be under the lights at Madison Square Garden in New York for the championship rounds of the 2k Classic benefitting the Wounded Warrior Project. They will open at 6 p.m. Thursday against Iowa, who is No. 25 in the Coaches’ Poll. Then, depending on the results, they will either play No. 23 Syracuse or Cal.