EULESS — A tall man wearing a gray track suit and basketball sneakers paces the lobby of the Euless Trinity High School gymnasium, waiting for his latest client to finish a Saturday morning shootaround in preparation for the 56th annual Whataburger Basketball Tournament.
The man is Ken Roberson, known simply as Slim to his friends, a local basketball legend who has been working out Dallas-area NBA players for nearly three decades.
Myles Turner at a glance
2 Ranking nationally, according to ESPN and Scout.com, among 2014 high school prospects. He is ranked sixth by Rivals.com.
7 Schools he’ll choose from after narrowing his list: Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio State, Oklahoma State and Texas.
Trinity in Whataburger
Euless Trinity vs. Louisville Ballard,
8:30 tonight, Thomas Coliseum, Haltom City
“Some of my notables were Karl Malone, Larry Johnson, Kurt Thomas, LaMarcus Aldridge, Chris Bosh, just to name a few,” Roberson said.
Slim smiles as if he is letting you in on a secret when he talks about his newest project.
“He could possibly be, if not the best, arguably in the top three of the best to ever come out of Texas,” Roberson says.
“He” is Trinity senior Myles Turner, the 7-foot-tall man-child currently listed as the No. 2 recruit in the country by ESPN, a far cry from where he found himself about a year and a half ago.
“I was playing in a spring league after my sophomore year,” Turner remembered. “I went up to block a shot and when I came down I tweaked my ankle and then another kid fell on it and it just snapped.”
With a broken ankle, Turner was relegated to the bleachers, missing an entire summer of AAU basketball and opportunities to attract the attention of scouts and recruiters.
“During the six months that I was out, me and Slim did nothing but lift weights,” said Turner, who stood 6-foot-8 and weighed just 185 at the time. “I would get up, get on my crutches and get in the weight room. It really opened my eyes sitting back and seeing it can all be taken away from you like that.”
The hard work paid off. With an additional 30 pounds of muscle on his then 6-foot-10 frame, Turner entered his junior season in the fall of 2012 as the best-kept secret in the country.
“A few coaches would come in and out of the gym, but I hadn’t really gotten any offers at that point,” Turner said. “It wasn’t until I was invited to the top 100 camp that things really started to heat up.”
The weeklong camp last June in Virginia, sponsored by the NBA players’ union and headed by former Houston Rockets guard and NBA coach John Lucas, brought together the 100 best high school basketball players from across the nation.
Blocking shots and averaging 12.4 points and 4.8 rebounds, the week served as Turner’s coming-out party, emerging as one of the top big men in the class of 2014.
“All of the sudden Kentucky was calling, Duke was calling,” Turner said. “One day I received — I counted — 97 letters. There was one night where my mom was on the phone with a coach, my dad was on the phone with a coach and I was on the phone with a coach all at the same time.”
Seemingly overnight, Turner had gone from an unranked, relative unknown to the most sought-after high school basketball recruit in the country.
Yet through it all, Turner remained humble and down to earth, something Trinity coach Mark Villines remains most impressed with.
“I looked over in practice one day and you had Coach [Krzyzewski], Coach Calipari, you had Larry Brown, Rick Barnes. These are all guys in Trinity gym, sitting in chairs on my floor watching us practice,” said Villines, who has known Turner since he was in the third grade. “For me as a coach, I idolize those guys, but for [Turner] he just takes it in stride. I was telling someone the other day ‘It doesn’t really look like recruiting bothers him at all.’ ”
Although determined to wait on a commitment until after his senior basketball season ends, Turner has narrowed his list to seven schools: Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio State, Oklahoma State and Texas.
“To be honest, I never saw any of this coming,” Turner said. “I’ve been working for it for a long time, going through all the progressions with Slim, constantly missing hanging out with my friends. It was tough at times, but growing up I watched my parents work really hard to provide me with this opportunity and I’m determined to pay them back.”
Back at the Trinity gym, with the shootaround finally over, Turner walks into the hallway where Slim is waiting for him.
“Time to get in some work,” he says. “If you wanna be the best, you gotta work harder than the rest.”
The state’s top talent is a secret no more.
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