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The Hard Sell

CHICAGO – It’s not that Myles Turner is holding auditions for best friend positions or searching for significance by waiting to hear how much he’s needed.

He’s not competing for most popular and he’s certainly not going all “daytime soap opera” in hopes of building some cheesy, melodramatic storyline about where he’s headed to play college basketball.

“Oh, no way,” said Turner, a center at Trinity (Euless, Texas). “Sometimes I wish I knew where I wanted to go. That would be so much easier.”

What Turner has been doing all week, while preparing for tonight’s (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU) McDonald’s All-American game at the United Center in Chicago, is simply taking mental notes.

“I’m having fun and everything, but, at the same time, I’m definitely trying to see who I gel with the most,” Turner said. “This is a tough decision so I’m trying to get all the information I can to make the best decision.”

Such is the life of the top uncommitted prospect in the 2014 class. Turner, a 7-footer, gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “America’s most wanted.”

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Forget about the college coaches applying the full-court recruiting press; at some point each of the players signed to the schools on Turner’s list – Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio State, Oklahoma State and Texas – have made their wish of teaming up known. And since they’re not bound by NCAA rules, Turner’s peers can remind him of where he belongs as much as they’d like.

“It’s pretty funny,” Turner said. “Most of them come at me pretty often too.”

And early.

Turner had only been at the downtown Marriott in the player’s lounge checking-in for the McDonald’s All-American festivities for a few minutes before D’Angelo Russell, an Ohio State signee, attempted to broker a deal.

“He said, ‘Let’s play air hockey and if I win you’ve gotta come with me to Ohio State,” said Turner, who will suit up for the East. “Everyone’s got their own way of selling their school.”

Some use the “big picture” angle; evident of the spiel Duke signee Jahlil Okafor gave: “Your roommate down the hall might be the future owner of Apple.”

Some use comparitive analysis, like Russell’s, “Think about it; Mike Conley-Greg Oden. Me-you.”

Some bank on history, like SMU signee Emmanuel Mudiay’s, “We go waaaay back” line, and some play it cool.

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“I think what we’re talking about doing really sells itself,” said Tyus Jones, a Duke signee. “I don’t wanna pressure him, but I think we can get it done.”

Jones’ confidence is relative. He’s gotten it done before.

After countless meetings, conference calls and joint visits, Jones, the top point guard in the 2014 class, and Okafor, the top overall player, successfully executed their plan to team up in college.

Jones said that while “there’s no set message” to try and convince Turner to come to Duke, there is a plan.

“There will be a time when me, Jahlil, Grayson (Allen) and Justise (Winslow) will all talk to him at the same time,” Jones said of Duke’s 2014 recruiting class. “We’re all really close and, obviously, we all made this game together so we’ll talk to him about being our final piece. I think having all of us there could help.”

Jones knows that Turner is using the McDonald’s All-American game to evaluate how well he gels with potential teammates on and off the court, and, for that reason, Jones said he somehow sees more lobs in Myles’ future.

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“I definitely want to show him how well I’d be setting him up all next year,” Jones said. “I’d be crazy not to take advantage of that opportunity.”

ESPN recruiting analyst Reggie Rankin agreed.

He said Turner can learn a lot about how life at the next level could potentially be by merely paying attention to his peers this week.

“It’s really a smart thing to do,” said Rankin, who has over 14 seasons of coaching experience in the SEC, Big 12 and the MAC. “It’s basically the same environment here as it would be at the next level. He’s wise to take mental note of what kind of chemistry could evolve on and off the court. It’s important to see who wants to play with you.”

But not every one of Turner’s potential teammates has played the salesman role.

Mudiay has been a little more hands-off this week.

After all, he’s been working “for a while now” to convince Turner that “Pony-ing up” next year at SMU could “change the game.”

“Myles knows how I feel,” said Mudiay, who will suit up for the West. “We’d be a special duo there and I know that we would do some big things under a legend like Larry Brown. At this point, I know he’s being crowded so I don’t bother him. I’m OK, because he knows what we could be.”

Kelly Oubre, a Kansas signee, has taken the same “fall back” approach with Turner this week. He believes it’s “pointless anyway” since a higher power will guide Turner in his decision making process.

“God is gonna lead him to the right college,” said Oubre, a wing who will suit up for the West. “I’ve never been the one to try and persuade. Like when Jah and Tyus had their heavily-anticipated announcement I just told them to make the right choice for them. If Myles feels Kansas is where he wants to elevate his game then I’ll happily welcome him to the family. At the end of the day it’s about him and his family not any of us.”

Be that as it may, Turner contends that the relationships he forms, or doesn’t form, this week will “definitely” factor in to his decision.

“I want to be able to leave here and have a better feel for this part of my decision,” said Turner, who added that he plans to decide sometime later this month or early next month. “Just who I click with from a basketball standpoint and also off the court. I’ve definitely gotten to know a few of the guys better already. That will only make things harder.”

And so the wait continues.

Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY


The Hard Sell
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