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April 30, 2014

Turner's unique journey ends with commitment to Texas

Euless, Texas - Wednesday afternoon live on ESPNU, a journey that began long ago and started with unofficial visits to North Texas and UT-Arlington, the first schools to show any sort of interest in him before he blew up both in size and prospect status, finally ended. Myles Turner made the decision to stay in his home state and play for the Texas Longhorns.

"I didn't really want to leave home, but I was looking at all these other schools. They were very intriguing," said Turner. "But staying here in Texas meant a lot to me."

Actually, the process ended just over 12 hours earlier at the Turner household. The No. 9 prospect overall in the 2014 Rivals150 called another, long family meeting. After coaches made their final in-home visits and pitches, these meetings became fairly common as the Euless Trinity product examined everything he could examine about his final schools before being able to make completely sure his pick was the right one.

"That was actually last night right before I went to bed it kind of all came down to me," stated Turner about when he really knew for sure. "It was between a couple of schools, and I realized that this is the place for me to go."

A final family meeting deep into the night ended with a decision, hugs and happiness for the 6-11 big man and his family.

"The emotions were just basically … I wouldn't say relieved, but he was just happy," Mary Turner, Myles' mother said after the announcement. "He's kind of been a bear through this process. When we knew, he smiled and he gave me a big hug and he gave his dad a big hug and said, 'I'm good. This is where I want to be.' So, we were excited about that."

Excited had to be an understatement for the reaction the Texas coaching staff had. Known for his ability to not tip his hand, Turner didn't call the Texas coaches before the announcement. They found out when the rest of America did on national television.

"I didn't actually so they are probably at home right now going crazy," the five-star said with a big grin about calling the coaches before he announced. "I'm going to talk to Coach Barnes, (Chris) Ogden, all those guys and tell them I'm happy to be home."

Although the decision was her son's completely, Mrs. Turner didn't completely hide where she wanted to see her son end up.

"Early on, I pretty much let the cat out of the bag and said I wanted my son to go Texas, and they kind of caught on to that. They caught that clue, and Chris Ogden was in pretty much constant communication with me," Mrs. Turner stated. "Really, this was all Myles' decision because that's important to know because it was painstaking the amount of time and the amount of research he put into every team."

Years ago, Turner was an unknown prospect. He didn't transfer to a bigger, more popular basketball school or a well-known private school like Findlay Prep. Instead, he stayed at Euless Trinity and kept grinding. At times, it was very frustrating for Turner and his family because colleges didn't see what the family and everyone else saw in him early.

"We were at just about every practice, every trip, and we got to see how he grew. Finally, the summer before he broke his ankle, was when we saw it but everybody else didn't see it," Turner's mother Mary responded when asked when she knew for sure her son had a special basketball future ahead of him. "So, we were kind of frustrated with that. But this past summer, we were good. We were like, 'Wow. This is our kid. This not just a kid someone else is talking about, this is our kid."

At the podium during the announcement included Turner and his family. Before he, with some assistance from his little sister, put on a burnt orange Texas bucket hat, Turner's father David put some pieces of paper on the table. They were scholarship papers from his final five, and Turner mentioned, without naming which ones, there were a couple that he looked at the hardest.

"It came down to a few… I had a top-five - Duke, Texas, Oklahoma State, A&M, as well as Kansas," the McDonald's All-American said. "I was looking at those schools hard, and there were a couple in particular I was looking at the hardest, but Texas is the place to me. I couldn't leave home."

Turner actually had to do some last-minute shopping before the announcement to make sure he had a new hat to put on.

"It was actually a funny story: when we ordered this hat two days ago, there was a problem with the credit card so we didn't get it. So, we went out last night and got it," he said about his Texas hat. "Originally, I was going to take hats from each school and put them on there, but I didn't want to disrespect any programs whatsoever."

Known for his work-ethic and impressive mental makeup as much as his elite skill, Turner noticed Texas' business-like approach to basketball this season up close, and it helped the Longhorns' cause.

"It was a given more than anything. They talked about it a little bit, but I really got to see it first-hand when I went down there and watched them practice," he said about Texas' blue-collar-type of hoops approach. "They were working real hard and were able to set away all distractions."

Those who follow Turner on Twitter probably noticed how big of a hoops fan he is, and how much he tweeted about the Longhorns, especially one game in particular. Texas' emphatic home win over Kansas was a game that really stuck out to Turner.

"Really, when I watched them play Kansas and they beat Kansas at home," mentioned Turner about a moment that really stood out to him about Texas. "The fact that they were able to go in there and rally together… really the whole city to come in there and rally together. That was really inspiring."

Now, Turner hopes he's on the floor for moments like that. The Longhorns return everyone from last year's team and will be a likely top-10 team nationally in the preseason polls.

"It's exciting more than anything," responded Turner about the high expectations for the Longhorns that got a lot higher after his commitment. "No pressure whatsoever. [I'm] ready to come in there and make a great impact. Yeah, stretch-four… play down with the five. Just going down and playing with those guys every day and [I] know it's going to better myself going forward and I envision great things in the Big 12 next year. I'm very confident and I'm really looking forward to going down to Austin and making some great things happen. We can be great next year. We have everyone coming back. We are coming off a phenomenal season. We have only one senior. Jonathan Holmes is a great leader going forward. It could be really good for this whole program."

If the Longhorns can be as great as Turner thinks they can be, Texas fans will likely start to buy a lot of burnt orange bucket hats to wear to the Frank Erwin Center, and will remember Turner's announcement for a long, long time.

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