Men's Basketball

Texas-ex Myles Turner gaining recognition on court, raising awareness off of it

Story highlights
  • Turner helped start WARM, a program that provides aid to homeless people in Indianapolis.
  • In his second NBA season, Turner is averaging 15.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.
  • Indiana Pacers President Larry Bird said Turner has "a chance to be one of the best players" in franchise history.

Posted February 16th, 2017

Myles Turner is heating up.

Two years after his only season at Texas, the Indiana Pacers’ 6-11 center will make his NBA All-Star Weekend debut Friday in New Orleans. Turner, in his second season with the Pacers, is averaging 15.6 points and 7.2 rebounds for the sixth-place team in the Eastern Conference.

His play earned him a spot in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge, which pits rookies and second-year players from the United States against their international counterparts (8 p.m., TNT).

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It’s what Turner is doing off the court, however, that might be even more impressive. The 20-year-old from Bedford, Texas, has wasted no time giving back to his communities, both new and old.

In addition to hosting his first basketball camp last summer at his high school, Turner has continued to grow his initiative to help the homeless in Indianapolis. Throughout the winter, he and a loyal group of Pacers fans can be found handing out bags of essentials and other items to those in need.

“When I first got here, Indianapolis welcomed me with open arms, so I really wanted to give back in any way I could,” Turner said Tuesday, speaking on the phone from Indianapolis.

The program, called “We All Really Matter” or WARM, was launched by Turner and his mother Mary Turner, and has grown with the support of his fan section at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, “Turner’s Block.” They gather items such as hand warmers, blankets, cash, water and snacks to pass out.

The idea sprouted from the actions of Turner’s parents when he was young. During the winter months, they would keep items in the family vehicle to give to anyone they saw in need.

Turner’s rise has been swift. He’s not far removed from attending basketball clinics rather than running them.

He arrived at Texas in 2014 as the No. 6-ranked overall recruit in his class, and averaged 10.1 points and 6.5 rebounds for the Longhorns during coach Rick Barnes’ final season. Turner said he keeps in contact with Longhorns teammates who are still at UT, and visits as often as time allows.

Despite a thumb injury that caused him to miss more than 20 games as a rookie, Turner — the 11th overall pick of the 2015 NBA draft — landed on the All-Rookie second team. Prior to this season, NBA legend and Pacers president Larry Bird heaped some lofty expectations on the young star.

“He plays hard. He works hard. He wants to be great,” Bird told the Indianapolis Star. “He’s going to be great. To me, I think he’s got a chance to be one of the best players or maybe the best player (in the franchise’s history). You’ve still got Paul (George) with a bunch of time left, too, and you had Reggie (Miller) here with all the other great ones. But being a 20-year-old and doing what this kid is doing just blows my mind.”

Turner has not shied away from those words, and has done his best to live up to them. He’s scored at least 20 points 12 times this season, including a 30-point, 16-rebound effort on opening night against the Dallas Mavericks.

Only time will tell if he lives up to Bird’s expectations and makes it back to All-Star Weekends on a regular basis.

As for what’s next off the court?

“I’m looking to do my camps every summer. Hopefully we’ll get WARM to be a nation-wide thing,” Turner said. “Just taking it one step at a time, and hopefully try to expand myself even more.”

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