USA TODAY High School Sports is featuring each of the 12 finalists for the Gatorade Athlete of the Year award during a two-week series leading into the July 15 announcement in Los Angeles. The award is given to the top male and female among the 12 finalists, who won their respective sport’s national player of the year award earlier in the 2013-14 school year. USA TODAY High School Sports administrates the nationwide selection process in collaboration with Gatorade.
It’s not that Brianna Turner is trying to be deep or make a statement; she’s not making sure the cameras are rolling before making her proclamation and she’s not really concerned about it “sounding good.”
She’s just being, well, honest.
“Everything I did in high school is in the past,” said Turner, a 6-foot-3 forward who’s settling in as a freshman at Notre Dame. “I look at it like I haven’t done anything yet.”
It’s a tough sell to say the least; Turner’s legendary run at Manvel (Houston) reads like a lifetime achievement award intro: Led the Mavericks to a 38-2 record and the Class 5A state championship this past season, averaged 20.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, 4.2 steals, 3.9 blocks and 3.7 steals in just 23 minutes per game, Gatorade Player of the Year, won five gold medals with Team USA, MVP of the McDonald’s All-American game, etc.
“Well, I haven’t brought any of that stuff with me,” Turner said. “I don’t have any of those trophies here in my dorm room. I’m focused on college. That was then and I want to be the best player that I can possibly be so I have to put all of my focus in to what I’m doing now.”
It’s relative; the proverbial “hunger” to get better is what’s put the plaques on the walls and trophies on the shelves and contentment, according to Turner, “is a bad thing.”
It’s a mindset she adopted from her parents; and they would know.
Both Howard Turner (Lamar University) and Kellye Turner (University of Houston) played college basketball and know from personal experience that complacency can absolutely stunt growth on the hardwood.
“I always tell her to never be satisfied,” Kellye said. “There was a point when she was so much more athletic than everybody else and I’d make sure to tell her that wouldn’t last forever. That will be diminished on the college level. Everyone is athletic so it’s important for her to build her skill-set. We always talk to her about striving for more and pushing ahead.”
It helps that, despite being, arguably, the most accomplished and most highly-touted incoming freshman women’s hooper in the country, Turner implements the “sponge” approach.
“I have a lot to learn so I’m trying to soak it all up,” Turner said. “I have to get stronger and faster for sure, but I’m dedicated to working hard and giving it my all. I’m just liking college. I think I’m adjusting to everything pretty well.”
“Notre Dame has a great cafeteria up here so I’m eating well,” Turner said. “But it’s not mom’s cooking. I definitely miss that.”
Relief is in sight. It is, after all, her 18th birthday today.
“Oh I plan to cook her up a big meal; maybe some stuffed shrimp and a bunch of other things,” Kellye said. “She’s a college kid now so she’s in need of a home-cooked meal and she absolutely more than deserves it.”
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