Last year's Freshman of the Year in the MAC comes in at #11 on our list of the top 25 players for the 2014-15 campaign. Zavier Turner was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise forgettable season for first year head coach James Whitford, but damn was he good.
Let's get the ugly stuff out of the way first. If you're not aware, Ball State finished in the basement of the MAC, and by a wide margin. The Cardinals wrapped up conference play 2-16 and 5-25 overall, half as many wins as the next closest MAC school (Central Michigan, 10). Things can only go up from here. And we've the right guy running the point.
Zavier Turner wasted no time making his mark on Ball State hoops. In his first game as a Cardinal, the 5 foot 9, 168 pound Indianapolis product scored 17 points and tallied 5 assists in 33 minutes at Indiana State. Turner would top that effort just two games later, scoring 19 against Southeast Missouri State.
When league play began, the scoring continued. Turner scored a season high 24 against the Miami RedHawks on January 18th. He also established himself as one of the deadliest three point shooters in the MAC. For the season, Turner ranked fifth in three point shooting percentage, sinking just under 41 percent of his shots. His 61 three pointers are the most of any freshman in school history. He will again be expected to handle much of the scoring load this season.
"That's what I live for," Turner told The Star Press. "That's the type of player that I've always been. I feel like I'm built for things like that to be on my shoulders."
In fact he did a little bit of everything last season. Turner led all MAC freshmen in points (12.1), assists (3.7) and minutes (32.7) per game along with 3-point percentage (.409) and free throw percentage (.880). He finished the season ranked in the top 10 among all players in each of those categories except scoring.
Turner is the fourth most prolific freshman scorer in school history, ranking behind legends Bonzi Wells, Ray McCallum, and Theron Smith. The scoring will come. After starting 27 games a season ago, Turner already has a lot of experience running the point. What must go away however, are the turnovers. Twelve times last season, Turner logged 5 or more turnovers in a game.
It's undeniable however that Turner is a supreme talent, the future of the Ball State program, and the future of the Mid-American Conference. Things can only get better for the Cardinals, and Turner will continue to flourish in Whitford's system. Win or lose this season, when Ball State is playing your favorite school, Turner makes the game a must watch.
Ball State opens the 2014-15 season at Utah on November 14th.