Tale of Turner and Tyus

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Evan Turner led Ohio State to a Big Ten championship last season.

But had Turner not made up his mind sooner, Florida senior forward Alex Tyus could have ended up a Buckeye instead of him.

Ohio State coach Thad Matta had one scholarship remaining in his 2007 recruiting class. It came down to Turner and Tyus. In early June of 2006, Matta gave Turner a deadline to commit, or else he was going to offer the scholarship to Tyus.

Turner committed on a Wednesday. Tyus had an official visit to the Ohio State campus scheduled that weekend, which Matta was forced to cancel.

“He’s a very, very good player,” Matta said of Tyus. “But I like the one that we got out of the deal.”

The versatile Turner was the Naismith National Player of the year last season before being taken second overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in last June’s NBA draft. The 6-foot-7 Turner averaged 20.4 points, 9.2 rebounds and 5.9 assists while playing point guard and forward for the Buckeyes.

Tyus has put together a nice career at Florida while playing out-of-position at times early in his career. As a junior, Tyus averaged 11.8 points per game while tying a team-high with 6.9 rebounds. Tyus said he doesn’t wonder what would have happened had he been offered the scholarship at Ohio State.

“Things happen for a reason,” Tyus said. “I’m just happy to be here.”

— Tuesday’s game also will mark a reunion of a pair McDonald’s All-American freshman big men — Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger and UF fcenter Patric Young. The 280-pound Sullinger had 19 points and 13 rebounds as a starter in his collegiate debut. The 245-pound Young had two points and a rebound off the bench.

Young said that he didn’t practice against Sullinger at last April’s McDonald’s All-American game because the two were on separate teams. The two big men didn’t play gainst each other until the closing minutes. But Young said he did match up with Sullinger the previous summer at the Hoop Summit in Portland, Oregon.

“He’s physical and once he puts that butt on you it’s like, you are not moving,” Young said. “I just have to make sure I try to stay quicker than him. Really wide body. He’s not as athletic though so I think I can do a good job keeping him off the boards at least.”