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The Legacy of the Villain

Where does Turner rank among all time Buckeye greats?

You got to love long weekends.  It gives you a chance to reflect on the things that you can easily under-appreciate about the life that seems to fly by at a faster pace the older you get.  Like the fact that we enjoy more freedoms that any other country and that is a result of the men and women who have served and are serving in the US armed forces.  Sure – there is a lot that can be debated and even complained about if you want to hyper-analyze the political objectives as it relates to current or past military action or even to fall into the cynicism of all the other things that don’t seem so rosy in the world today.  But it is not the day for that – instead this weekend it is important to step back and honor the sacrifice of those in uniform to represent and protect this country by putting themselves in harm’s way.  I have the highest level of respect and gratitude for all soldiers and continue to be amazed at the courage they display so that Americans can enjoy such a level of freedom.

This weekend has also given me the time to catch up on all that has been going on the past month since the spring game – granted it is the slow season of the year as Buckeye sports are concerned.  The baseball team recently ended their regular season and even though they ended up with a 23-28 record overall and went 11-13 in the conference there were four Buckeyes named all conference and junior Alex Wimmers named Big 10 Pitcher of the Year for the second time and up for National Pitcher of the Year.   But it is college baseball which really doesn’t take center stage unless you are one of the teams making it to Omaha.  Also notable from their season is the retirement of 23 year head coach Bob Todd whose #18 jersey was retired.  Also in the world of Buckeye athletics there has been much development on the football recruiting front, which I will cover in another blog.  But neither of these is what has been bouncing around in my mind this weekend.  Ever since Evan Turner declared himself eligible for the NBA draft on April 7th I have been wondering what legacy the Villain will have in the lore of Buckeye fandom.  This idea was fresh in my mind for a while then went dormant only to be reawakened when the NBA lottery was held and the chatter of “who goes where” began with most opinions landing Turner at pick #3 to Philadelphia.

Turner will definitely be remembered as one of the best based upon his individual stats and national awards (which were completely deserved) but I am not sure where his legacy will rank with the legendary Buckeyes like Lucas, Havlicek, and even the likes of Jimmy Jackson.  Of course he was amazing player and overall stand up guy – everyone has read or heard of how he came up overcoming a speech impediment and loss of a close friend in high school to come to Ohio State and polish his game from a young talented freshman to basically become last years all everything guy that became Player of the Year.  But his three years had a lot of ups and downs and never really packed enough punch to make it deep into the NCAA tournament.  Granted his front court has been middle of the road at best but still – for someone that goes down as one of three National Players of the Year, Big Ten Player of the Year, re-wrote the record book with the three triple doubles last year, and even provided a dagger in the heart of the enemy with his tournament buzzer beater against TSUN.  All very much noteworthy and memorable but it could be said that the tournament run led by Oden and Conley, or even the Cinderella charge of Scoonie Penn to the Final Four in 99 would be more so over the test of time.   A similar analogy would be most of the passing and receiving records in football are held by Bobby Hoying and David Boston respectively – but do they have as much of a legacy as say Troy Smith and Cris Carter?

Consider this – if someone were to have asked you who were the other two Buckeyes to have been NPOY – who would you have guessed?  Lucas would have been one of mine honestly, but then it would have probably been either Havlicek or Jackson.  The other one was Gary Bradds – the player of the year in 1964 (Lucas won back to back in 61’ and 62’).  Until I did some online searching I had no idea who Gary Bradds was because he was before my time – I am sure my Dad mentioned his name before but the names Lucas and Havlicek are definitely more familiar.  The strange thing is that he was on the same team as Lucas and Havlicek – but for some reason has not had the same lasting effect from a legacy standpoint.  Most likely because Lucas and Havlicek carried the college success to Hall of Fame professional careers.  Similarly you have people like Jimmy Jackson – who had an amazing career in college and lasted in the NBA but not even close to being part of the top 50 all time players that the other two were.  But JJ’s legacy (his number is retired for crying out loud)  as a Buckeye is probably due to the post season success and being Big Ten POY twice.  But if you open up that type of reasoning then it stands that people like Dennis Hopson, Terrence Dials, Scoonie Penn, Greg Oden, and Mike Conley Jr – all of who went as deep or deeper in the big dance as Turner and also won individual conference honors would have just as much of a legacy.  It is really tough to say where Turner will end up ranking in the history books of Buckeye lore.  I mean last season was amazing, his sophomore year was great but he was obviously a really raw talent and his freshman year was one of unpolished potential – but none of the seasons ever mounted to more than a conference championship and second round tournament exit.  I am not trying to diminish Turner’s accomplishments at all – he was a tremendous player and even better person to wear the scarlet and gray.  But the fact remains that at a program like tOSU there are always going to be great players, but only a few will be legendary enough to be remembered for the ages.

Perhaps a combination of a record setting, award winning career as a Buckeye and a successful career as a pro will be the path for Turner’s legacy – only time will tell.  And at the June 24th NBA draft we find out where the Villain lands and the next stage of his career begins.