AJ Turner excelling after prep year with Michigan commit Aubrey Dawkins

Dylan Burkhardt
on

FORT WAYNE, Ind. — AJ Turner1209928[1] left the state of Michigan at the end of last summer, transferring from De La Salle to New Hampton School in New Hamshire and reclassifying to the 2015 class.

The move was essentially a gamble on himself — a bet that an extra year of practice and a change of scenery could propel his recruitment to new heights. Judging by Turner’s play this spring, the prep school gamble is paying off.

Turner had largely fallen off of the radar while tucked away at New Hampton School over the past nine months, but now he’s giving scouts a taste of how much he’s improved.

Turner was on fire at the Spiece Memorial Run-n-Slam in Fort Wayne, IN over the weekend. The 6-foot-6 guard is still skinny, but he’s playing more aggressively – both with the ball and on the glass – and most importantly he shot the lights out. We watched Turner score 30 points, including five made threes, in a close win over Chicago-based Mac Irvin Fire, but he maintained his torrid scoring pace through the weekend.

Turner credited his time at New Hampton to developing both as a basketball player and as a person.

“It’s a great place,” he said on Saturday afternoon. “I really felt like this year I developed a lot. Being away from home, on and off the court. Definitely on the court, you know the competition – playing Brewster, etc. – every team you have to play hard. The EYBL and prep school are very similar where every team has multiple Division I guys.”

The New Hampton teammate that took Turner under his wing was none other than recent Michigan commitment Aubrey Dawkins.

“[Aubrey Dawkins] really mentored me this season because he was an older guy,” Turner explained. “I tried to do what he did, watch his moves and things like that. He works hard and he’s a very very talented player. He deserves a lot of respect.”

Turner said that Dawkins was one of the most underrated players that he’s played with and questioned why other schools weren’t more involved.

Aubrey Dawkins was really underrated and Michigan offered him late. Battling against him… I was surprised that he didn’t have more offers [like Michigan]. He’s a very good player.

“He’s very athletic. He’s very bouncy, he can shoot the ball. I think he’s a very all around player. He can attack, his jump shot is nice, he can rebound and he’s an all around shooting guard.”

While Turner’s kind words about Dawkins should encourage Michigan fans about his future, the Wolverines are also still involved in Turner’s recruitment.

Turner is hearing from VCU, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Harvard, Stanford, Wake Forest, Boston College, Iowa and Iowa State. Michigan head coach John Beilein remains in steady contact with the Michigan native.

“I’ve been talking to Coach Beilein and Coach Bacari [Alexander]. They saw me out in Sacramento at the EYBL Tournament and they are very pleased with my improvement since they last saw me. They said they will see me in July and to be ready for that live period.”

Turner said the Michigan coaches like how his game has developed.

“They didn’t really say they want to see anything. They said to keep doing what I’m doing and the improvements that I’ve made — playing harder, rebounding the ball, shooting, just being an all around kind of dog.”

Turner is well on his way to a big spring and summer on the AAU circuit and will have every chance to prove his development while playing with The Family on the EYBL circuit leading into the July evaluation period.

  • flwolve

    A duo of Coleman and Turner plus a top 100 big would be a decent haul for UM this year. it would be nice if Turner could add some muscle and play the stretch 4 for us but that doesn’t appear to be the case based on his lack of strength.

    • http://www.umhoops.com/ Dylan Burkhardt

      Don’t see Turner much as a stretch four — then again I never would have predicted that Irvin would play the four during his freshman year. Also don’t see a stretch four as a huge need for Michigan with Chatman/Wilson coming in this year — they should be the future of that position.

      • salama

        Agreed. on stretch 4 being a strong position. If we get a big Donnal can slide to the 4, too, in a more traditional stretch 4 role.

        What we need is a secondary ballhandler. There’s even a chance Walton blows up and with no PG’s expected to go in the lottery after Mudiay goes in the top 5, he goes pro along with Levert, and we desperately need at least one wing player who can create off the dribble, with Albrecht and Irvin (could develop) still very much spot-up threats.

        • http://www.umhoops.com/ Dylan Burkhardt

          MAAR provides insurance as that off the dribble threat. That’s his game.

          • salama

            True. And though I don’t doubt the kid has talent and Beilein and the staff will help him get better,, he’s not a sure thing by any means.

        • Kenny

          hope that Irvin will develop ball-screening game during the off-season, really need it next year. MAAR has a year to learn it too. I think that between Dawkins and MAAR, the former is more ready to contribute next year at 3 and the latter needs a lot of work to pick up the offense.

  • AADave

    McQuaid just committed to SMU. Targets are thinning out. It is strange that Michigan hasn’t been able to get a commit for 2015 so far while OSU has locked up three 4 stars for 2015 already (including former Michigan target Grandstaff and another borderline top 50 player). Michigan’s been the far better program for at least a couple years now.

    I agree with others here that Michigan really needs to lock up at least one of their top guard prospects (Brunson and/or Coleman) and a top 100 forward for a successful recruiting year.

    • http://www.umhoops.com/ Dylan Burkhardt

      Think Michigan can be fairly selective. Not sure how hard they pushed for McQuaid after watching him in Sacramento. Grandstaff they tried to get on campus, so he was obviously higher up the list.

      U-M is going to have a smaller class this year and needs to find an impact two guard — I agree with that. Coleman would fit the bill perfectly there. I don’t think they need to reach quite yet for other prospects and they may want some extra time for evaluation in July. The lack of a second spring evaluation is a bit unfortunate.

      For example, is McQuaid a better prospect than AJ Turner? Tough to tell at this point without the July period.

    • Kenny

      In terms of closing a deal fast, Matta is probably second to none. It might leave others frustrated but everyone has their own way surviving and I am sure that Beilein will eventually get a decent class of 2015.

    • Justin

      Matta is a closer…a true salesman…has always done a great job recruiting and really just coaching.

      Obviously hasn’t won the big one, really the only item that he needs to hit, has excellent assistants. Greg Paulus (the former Duke hooper and Cuse QB) is on his staff…Paulus is one of the true young guys on the rise in the coaching ranks…He may be hired as head coach at the Division I level before his 30th birthday!

      • Kenny

        The name Paulus sounds familiar. Now I recalled that at the time RR was first hired (or maybe after his first season), there were rumors that Paulus would transfer to Michigan to play QB, Seems not a long time ago. Did not know that he ends up as Matta’s assistant.

  • jblair52

    I can’t help but find myself cheering for Turner.

    I like his game but I love his attitude.

  • Wayman Britt

    Let’s just get both Jalens and call it a day.