Ohio St’s Evan Turner wins Wooden Award
Evan Turner posed for endless photographs while holding the
hefty John R. Wooden Award, grinning wide enough to show the braces
on his lower teeth. His mother sat quietly in an evening dress on
the second row of seats at the Los Angeles Athletic Club, waiting
for her turn with college basketball’s consensus player of the
“I guess I’m going to have to get used to it,” Iris James said
with a laugh.
Indeed, the Ohio State star’s life is only speeding up after he
claimed yet another trophy as the nation’s top basketball
Turner was chosen Friday night over Kentucky freshman John Wall,
Syracuse’s Wesley Johnson, West Virginia forward Da’Sean Butler and
Kansas guard Sherron Collins for the 34th Wooden Award.
Turner already won The Associated Press player of the year award
and the Naismith Award among other honors, essentially making a
clean sweep of the sport’s top prizes after his stellar season with
“This is absolutely crazy,” Turner said, thinking back on
every honor of the past month. “I was hoping for one
player-of-the-year award, but to get about five of them is crazy. I
knew if my team did well, I was going to do well on these awards.
What sent me over the top as a dominant player was our team’s
success, and I know that.”
The Big Ten’s player of the year averaged 20.4 points, 9.2
rebounds and 6.0 assists while making more than 52 percent of his
shots and leading the Buckeyes (29-8) to the NCAA tournament’s
The 6-foot-7 ball-handling swingman announced Tuesday he’s
skipping his senior season to enter the NBA draft. He’s already
getting advice on his future from an excellent source: Kobe Bryant
texted congratulations and draft-preparation advice to Turner
earlier this week, and Turner expects to meet up with the Lakers
star when he attends Sunday’s game against Portland at Staples
“He’s been really great to me,” Turner said. “He just
basically tells me to prepare for the draft like it’s just another
part of basketball. Awards are great, but it’s about working hard
Turner also spared a moment onstage to thank his mother, who
raised him by herself in the Chicago area.
“You’ve been taking care of me,” Turner said. “Now let me
take care of you.”
Connecticut’s Tina Charles won the women’s Wooden Award, beating
Huskies teammate Maya Moore by one point in the closest voting in
the award’s history.
Florida’s Billy Donovan received a Legends of Coaching award,
with the 44-year-old becoming the youngest coach to receive the
Turner received 3,715 points in the voting by more than 1,000
media members and college basketball experts. Wall, the Wildcats’
NBA-bound point guard, finished a close second with 3,331 points,
while Johnson was third with 1,871.
The top three vote-getters are spending a whirlwind half-week in
Los Angeles. Turner and Johnson appeared on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel
Live” on Thursday – Wall couldn’t go because he had to take a test
for school – and all three coached in a Special Olympics basketball
tournament on Friday morning.
Turner joins a list of Wooden Award winners including Michael
Jordan, Larry Bird, David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Elton Brand, Kevin
Durant and 2009 winner Blake Griffin. The former Oklahoma star, who
missed the entire NBA season with the Los Angeles Clippers with a
knee injury, presented the trophy to Turner at the downtown
Turner was selected to the All-America team last month,
receiving all but one possible first-team vote. He’s the first Ohio
State player to win the Wooden Award.
Turner has won an armful of player-of-the-year trophies despite
missing 4 1/2 weeks of the regular season with broken bones in his
back, coming back more quickly than expected – partly by using the
Ohio State football team’s facilities for rehabilitation.
“I just tried to stay mentally tough and keep an edge for
myself,” Turner said of his injury absence. “I built up my mental
capacity during that time and prepared myself.”
After Ohio State rallied from a 1-3 Big Ten start to win a share
of the conference title, Turner won the Big Ten tournament’s most
outstanding player award while leading the Buckeyes to the
Ohio State then reached the third round the NCAA tournament
before falling to Tennessee. Turner missed two potential tying
3-pointers in the final seconds of the Buckeyes’ upset loss.
“That was one of the toughest moments I’ve had in basketball,”
Turner said. “Sometimes you have to pay your dues.”