Is Vermontâ€™s Next Diamond in Rough a SoCal Bro?
Shortly after local Rice Memorial prospect Michel Ndayishimiye announced his decision to attend the University of Vermont (walk-on), the Catamounts continued their pursuit to bolster their future, this time by extending an offer to 2021 G/F Luke Turner. Along with Ndayishimiye Vermontâ€™s recruitment class of 2021 features two great prospects in Sam Alamutu and Evan Guillory, though Turnerâ€™s skillset and style of play is vastly different than those two and would be a welcome addition to Vermont by all accounts.
Hailing from Temecula, California, Turner is a true west coast native and seemingly outside of Vermontâ€™s typical recruitment pipeline. Nonetheless, Turner can absolutely ball and his style of play appears to be a perfect fit for what the Catamounts are searching for. Officially listed at 6â€™7â€, Turner fits the mold as a true offensive threat on the wing. His shooting and length (and hair) are without a doubt his best traits, as it would come as no surprise if Turner split his floor time between a shooting guard and small forward role. Per Verbal Commits, Turner holds offers from schools such as UC San Diego, UC Riverside and Pepperdine among others. Utah and Oregon State have also expressed interest though have yet to officially extend an offer Turnerâ€™s way.
Although player comparisons rarely pan out the way theyâ€™re projected, Turner does play with a similar style to that of Hartfordâ€™s Hunter Marks. The 6â€™9â€ Marks is a match-up nightmare as his game is better suited for that of a shooting guard or wing, but his length allows him to cover nearly every position. Now granted even though Marks has flashed at times during his tenure at Hartford, he has never quite been able to consistently play at a high level. Marks might have reached his ceiling already and even if the same holds true for Turner, heâ€™d still be a solid player in the America East by all accounts. Maybe itâ€™s just the hair that has me grasping at straws here.
Strengths & Weaknesses
Iâ€™m sure the majority of Catamount fans were closing following along the southern California high school basketball circuit this past year, but if for some strange reason you werenâ€™t then I encourage you to check out some of Turnerâ€™s highlights below.
Strengths â€“ As previously mentioned, Turnerâ€™s shooting and length are without a doubt his best assets. Even in a shorten season Turner still strung together some highly impressive shooting performances, as he had games of 44, 34, 29 and 26 points. Knows how to use his size and length to his advantage. Very fluid movement and solid ball handling. Is highly effective and creative off the dribble. Will be able to make an instant impact as a spot up shooter.
Weaknesses â€“ Solid frame at 6â€™7â€, but will likely need to add more weight. Doesnâ€™t have elite level athleticism. Despite size and length does not have a great inside presence. Biggest area of improvement will need to come on the defensive end. Wonâ€™t receive significant playing time until defensive improvements have been made. Great shooter, but fairly average elsewhere. Ceiling and potential are likely limited.
Potential Fit at Vermont
Turnerâ€™s style of play and skill level seem like a natural fit at Vermont and the America East as a whole. If Turner does elect to commit to Vermont, heâ€™ll likely have to redshirt the year, though there is a chance that he could earn playing time solely based on his ability to knock down perimeter shots. He fits a need for Vermont both in the short term and long-term plans. While it would be nice to add an experienced player via the transfer route, the Cats have a bit of a logjam among their upperclassmen and minutes are going to tough to come by.
If Turner does enroll at Vermont, heâ€™ll be joining a solid young nucleus of fellow incoming freshmen Sam Alamutu and Evan Guillory, along with two already enrolled freshmen in Nick Fiorillo and Georges Lefebvre. Vermont has a ton of upperclassmen talent at the moment and while that is great for the next season or two, this young core should help keep the Cats as perennial favorites out of the America East for years to come.
As much as Iâ€™d love to see Turner announce his decision to attend Vermont this fall, he might have some reservations being so far away from home. Turner mentioned that playing close to home was very important to him and considering that Temecula to Burlington is almost 3,000 miles apart, this could ultimately hinder Vermontâ€™s chances. However, John Becker and the coaching staff at Vermont have shown to be very particular with who they offer scholarships to. They wouldnâ€™t have extended this offer without a few prior conversations and likely have a sense that Turner will be considering this offer seriously.
Likelihood of Luke Turner becoming a Catamount? 5.3/10
Vermont doesnâ€™t have many roots recruiting out of California and considering that Turner has already said heâ€™d prefer to play close to home itâ€™s difficult to assume heâ€™d make the jump across the country to come play for Vermont. Stranger things have happened, but for now itâ€™s a coin flip.