Playing basketball was always the plan for Washington's Elston Turner
Washington's Elston Turner is the son of a father who played in the NBA and a mother who played in college and has helped him with his jump shot. Dubbed "Tournament Turner" by UW coach Lorenzo Romar, Turner has averaged 12 points in the Huskies' two NCAA tournament victories.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Washington vs. West Virginia, 4:27 p.m., Ch. 7
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His dad gave him the name that has opened doors and saddled him with NBA expectations. His mom helped create his jump shot and taught him to deal with setbacks he has faced during his two-year career at Washington.
Elston Turner Jr. was born to play basketball.
It's in his blood lines.
His father played eight years in the NBA, and his mother was a star player at North Texas University.
"I started playing basketball when I was 3," Turner said. "I just always had a basketball in my hand. I used to throw the basketball against the wall and imagine there was a hoop there.
"Probably around kindergarten — must have been 6 or 7 — at that time I felt like this is what I wanted to do."
If his father had his way, Turner might be playing in the Huskies' band instead of being a reserve sophomore guard for 11th-seeded Washington, which faces second seed West Virginia on Thursday in the third round of the NCAA tournament.
"He made me be in a band in the sixth, seventh and eighth grade," Turner said. "I played the trumpet and I tried to learn a couple other instruments.
"He'd always ask me, 'You sure you don't want to play this or that?' "
Turner Sr., who starred at the University of Mississippi, became a basketball nomad after his NBA playing days. He bounced from Athens, Greece, to Wichita, Kan., with his family in tow.
As an NBA assistant, he coached in Portland and Sacramento before landing with the Houston Rockets.
He never pushed the game on his namesake, but it was obvious early that the younger Turner was just like his dad in many ways.
"We're alike in terms of basketball IQ," Turner Jr. said. "He was very smart when he was on the court, and I'd say I got that from him in terms of knowing a lot about the game.
"I saw some video when he was in Chicago and when he was in college and in high school. It was pretty old, but he was just a defensive stopper. He changed games on the defensive end. I saw some games where he had 20 points and 20 rebounds as a shooting guard."
Turner took a different approach and developed strong offensive skills in high school with the aid of his mother, who helped refine his jump shot.
He started all three years at point guard at Roseville High near Sacramento, Calif., averaging 22.4 points and 7.5 rebounds. Turner finished high school in Missouri City, Texas, where he led Elkins High to a 31-4 record.
"A lot of people don't really know, but my mom helped my shooting also because she was out there rebounding for me because my dad was gone a lot for work," Turner said. "She also taught me a couple of things that I've taken with me and still use."
Rated the nation's No. 14 shooting guard by ESPN, Turner arrived at Washington in 2008 burdened by expectations.
As a freshman, Turner scored in double figures twice and averaged 3.6 points, but had two strong performances in the NCAA tournament.
Even though Turner scored just 10 total points in two games, coach Lorenzo Romar credited the sharpshooter for sparking a second-half comeback in a 76-74 loss to Purdue.
Many believed it was a glimpse of Turner's potential, and he was slated for a breakout year this season.
Instead, Turner has averaged 5.5 points while shooting .516 on free throws, .405 from the floor and .383 on three-pointers.
"I talked to my dad a lot about the basketball stuff, and I talk to my mom about the other stuff," he said. "She's helped me a lot get through the times when I wasn't doing as good as maybe I should have been."
Turner started three regular-season games, including the overtime loss at Texas Tech when he missed two free throws in regulation that would have given UW a lead with 4.8 seconds left.
Turner not only lost his starting job, he lost minutes to sophomore three-point specialist Scott Suggs.
"Nobody likes having something taken away, but I never sensed that he got down on himself," Romar said. "With Elston, you may think you're playing hard, but when we showed him the tape, it said something different.
"He saw that. He stayed with it, worked at it and got better."
How much better?
Romar dubbed him "Tournament Turner" after he followed a 14-point outing against Marquette in the first round with 10 points against New Mexico on Saturday.
Turner has converted at least two three-pointers in seven of the past 11 games. He also has proved to be solid on the defensive end, just like his father.
"Something about the tournament brings him to life," Romar said. "You wish he could bottle it up."
Turner laughed when it was suggested he's going to be saddled again with high expectations next season.
"A lot of people expected that I was going to come in here and start right away," he said. "I just see it as it's not my turn. I'm happy now.
"We're winning. I'm a team player and I don't care about me personally. I just care about doing whatever I can to help my team win."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or email@example.com
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