Indiana Pacers like what they see in former Longhorn Myles Turner

Reanna Zuniga

For weeks, Myles Turner prepared himself for the 2015 NBA Draft. He went through practice after practice and extensive medical research to prove he had what it takes to play at the professional level.

On Thursday evening, it paid off. The former Texas center was drafted as the 11th overall pick by the Indiana Pacers.

On Friday morning, Turner sat alongside Pacers President Larry Bird and head coach Frank Vogel to address his first steps in his NBA career.

Although Turner has family in Indiana, his first time visiting Indianapolis was the week before, when he worked out with the team. Bird, who has the final say as to whom the Pacers draft, said he is excited to see what Turner can contribute to the team.

“He’s a hard worker, and he’s dedicated to his sport, and we just feel like in the near future he’s going to be something special for us,” Bird said. “Even though he is young, we feel like he can play for us this year.”

To keep his dream of playing as a rookie alive, Turner said he knows he needs to improve his maturity level and paying attention to small details.

“That’s a big thing that Coach [Rick] Barnes got onto me about at Texas, whether it’s footwork, defensive positioning. Just all the stuff that I’m going to need to know to succeed at this level,” Turner said. “Like Mr. Bird was saying, I’m young, but I don’t think that’ll hold me back whatsoever. I think my body is going to mature at a high level with the strength conditioning coaches here.”

Aside from being the No. 2 prospect out of high school, according to ESPN, and being a huge sign for Texas, Turner was known for his odd running style, which quickly became a concern for NBA teams when he declared for the draft.

Leaving some wondering whether there was something structurally wrong or whether it might cause a long-term effect on the 6-foot-11-inch athlete’s knees, Turner and his advisers decided to face the problem head on.

In the weeks leading up to Draft day, Turner went through extensive tests on his running style to determine the problem. A report by the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York revealed the center’s gluteus media muscles inside the hip were weak, but they can be fixed with corrective strengthening exercises and workouts.

Turner’s ethics and wanting to prove his health caught the eye of the Pacers.

“When you get a guy with really great character, a great work ethic and all the physical things to be special, that’s something to be really excited about,” Vogel said.

Turner wore the No. 52 throughout high school and at Texas in honor of his childhood friend and teammate, Habram Rosario, who died of Leukemia when they were in ninth grade. Although he’s taking on a new number, 33, with the Pacers, he said he’s glad he got to represent Rosario during college.

“He was a big role model in my life and a lot of people’s lives around me. At the time, we were eighth and ninth grade, and he was mature beyond his years, it was crazy,” Turner said. “We played together for quite some time, and I wanted his legacy to live on through college and let everybody know he’s still a part of me.”