TYRONE, Ga. – Christian Turner technically isn’t a senior yet, but the Sandy Creek star point guard has already found himself in the midst of some senior year-shaping moments. He’s followed up a successful junior season with the kind of play in summer AAU ball that’s got people inserting his name into their conversations about Georgia’s best prep point guards.
Gabriel Stovall, editor of thecrescentbuzz.com got the chance to catch up with Turner to talk about his new workout regimen, his new coach and his new confidence.
STOVALL: How have you been spending your high school basketball offseason and summer after coming off a very impressive junior year?
TURNER: “This summer has definitely been more about conditioning and definitely getting ready for this new coach coming in. I know he wants to play fast, so I’m just working on getting my body right, staying in shape really is the first thing. Also, just keep getting confidence in my jump shot.”
STOVALL: What exactly has that getting in shape thing looked like for you?
TURNER: “Really the first thing is just eating right. Secondly, I’m trying to (run) three miles a day.
It’s a big adjustment trying to get my body in this kind of shape, but I definitely feel like it’s going to make a big difference in my game come July when I go through this last AAU stretch.”
STOVALL: Speaking of AAU, talk about the impact the Heat Check program has been making on you.
TURNER: “Man, Heat Check is a lot more than just basketball. It’s really just a whole organization, and head coach Jerome Weaver. He really teaches us so much more. And then playing with (McIntosh point guard) Jordan (Lyons) is amazing. We’ve played together since we were eight years old, when we actually kind of moved to Peachtree City around the same time, and played rec league ball together and then jumped into Heat Check. We’ve been playing with Heat Check for five years.”
STOVALL: It’s interesting the first thing you mentioned about Heat Check was the lessons you’ve learned aside from basketball. Which lesson has stood out most for you?
TURNER: “Well the biggest thing is just learning what it means to become a man. With me turning 17 this year, it’s really helped me to learn how to take responsibility for my actions and to not be afraid to face your fears.”
STOVALL: What is your biggest fear?
TURNER: “My biggest fear would be getting to a place where I’m not giving my 100 percent. My main goal is to always give my 100 percent every time I get out on the floor.”
STOVALL: Let’s shift gears to your new coach. When did you find out about Coach Anthony McKissic becoming your team’s new leader, and what were your initial thoughts about it?
TURNER: “I found out, I’d say, about four days ago. And my first impression was that it’s definitely gonna be new. We’ve talked pretty much every day. In fact he we just finished talking before you even called. I definitely feel like we’re going to be able to build a great relationship.”
STOVALL: What kind of vibe did you get from the rest of your team upon first meeting Coach McKissic?
TURNER: “Everyone, really, all of my teammates were very excited. Especially me since I’ve talked to him a lot. He seems like a very calm guy, but also a very exciting guy. He seems real excited to be able to coach our team, and he feels like we’ve got a shot to go far in state next year.”
STOVALL: I know it’s early, but what do you think will be some of the major differences between Coach MicKissic and Coach Reese’s styles of play?
TURNER: “With Coach (McKissic) It’s definitely going to be a fast paced game. There’s not going to be a lot of sets, and we’re going to be playing a lot of full court defense. I definitely prefer a fast pace game. Me as a small guard, playing a faster pace gives me the chance to use my speed and agility more.”
STOVALL: Who do you see, other than yourself, as some of the Sandy Creek players who will turn heads next season?
TURNER: “Elias Harden, definitely. He’s led us in scoring last year. But then I think that A.J. Freeman is really going to step up. He came off the bench last year and helped us, so I’m looking for him to really give us some strong minutes next season.”
STOVALL: Lately your name has been getting mentioned among some of the state’s top point guards. How does that make you feel?
TURNER: “It makes me feel good, given all the guards we have in Georgia. There’s so many of them here, and it’s just a great group and we’re very competitive with each other. All the top guards in the state know each other well.”
STOVALL: Other than yourself, who is your favorite Georgia high school point guard?
TURNER: “Definitely Alterique Gilbert (Miller Grove). He’s very similar to me, but he’s got a a little more shake in his game. I think he shoots the ball better than me as well. I actually watch a lot of film on him just to see how to get more creative and to get better with the ball.”
STOVALL: How many college scholarship offers have you received so far, and which one is your favorite?
TURNER: “So far, I’ve gotten four. Gardner Webb, Old Dominion, Cleveland State and Winthrop. I’d have to say that my favorite, as of right now, is Gardner Webb.”
STOVALL: Finally Christian, where has your biggest improvement come in your game so far this summer and offseason?
TURNER: “My biggest improvement has probably been my confidence. I definitely believe in myself and my abilities now more than I ever have, and I think that’s really the biggest factor in my improvement. The confidence has come through more repetition. I literally stay in the gym every day trying to be the best I can be.”