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

year.

“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

player.

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

the Buckeyes.

“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

regional semifinals.

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

Center.

“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

every day.”

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

honor.

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

club.

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

title.

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.”