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Thursday, February 21, 2013
Brianna Turner soaring with modesty

By Walter Villa

Call her the demure dunker or the humble hero.

The only flashy thing about Brianna Turner is her collection of sneakers, some 50 pairs strong, most of them in colors her mother teasingly calls "loud and obnoxious."

Bryan Harris, who coaches Turner at Manvel (Texas), also has noticed her footwear -- how could he not? -- and said his star player has received some ribbing from teammates.

"Brianna seems to have a new pair of sneakers for every practice," Harris said. "The kids like to joke about it."

Her game, on the other hand, is no joke.

Turner, 16, is the No. 3 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz Super 60 for the 2014 class. She's a 6-foot-3 forward who averaged 21 points, 11 rebounds and 3.5 blocks in her just-completed junior season and earned dozens of college scholarship offers. She also averaged 8.5 points and 4.0 rebounds to help Team USA take gold at the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship in Amsterdam in August.

Now she has her eyes on another prize.

Dobbs Im horrible at making decisions. Im going to have to think really hard and talk to my parents and my coaches.

-- Brianna Turner

"I'd love to win a national championship," said Turner, who has narrowed her potential schools to Baylor, Notre Dame, Connecticut, Duke and Stanford. "That would be like a dream."

Turner would be a dream recruit for any college coach to land, with her 36-inch vertical leap, long limbs, athleticism and speed.

Not to mention her stealth dunking skills.

"I saw her one day out of the corner of my eye," Harris said. "She was playing around with my 12-year-old son and she dunked a basketball.

"But she wouldn't want anyone to know because she's so humble."

Humility is a family trait. Both her parents played college basketball -- 6-6 forward Howard Turner at Lamar and six-foot forward Kellye Turner at Houston -- but neither is the type to brag.

In fact, her parents are much more focused on their only child's 3.8 GPA than her ppg.

Howard, though, admits that he would love to see his daughter dunk in a game.

"I talk to her about it all the time, but she doesn't like all the attention," he said. "She figures that a dunk [by a high school girl] will draw the media and cameras.

"She looks at a dunk as just two points. But she told me that when I least suspect it, she will dunk. She wants to do it in the spur of the moment. I think when she dunks, she won't even realize it because she will be caught up in the game."

Turner, who turns 17 on July 5, said her teammates have also asked her to dunk, but she has declined -- at least for now.

"I just have to find the right opportunity, like a fast break, when we have the lead," she said. "If I miss, I don't want to cost the team, and I don't want to hurt my hand."

Rather than dunking, Turner said she is working on her dribbling and her shooting range. Harris says she already has an uncanny ability to rebound, instinctively knowing where the caroms will fall. And her versatility on the defensive side of the ball is also noteworthy.

Turner, whose uncle Shannon Jones played linebacker at Southern Cal, has already won one state title. She did it as a freshman at Westbury Christian in Houston, where she started all 40 games and averaged 18.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks.

As a sophomore, she transferred to Manvel and averaged 20.4 points, 10.2 rebounds and 4.7 blocks to lead the Mavericks to a 34-3 record. Manvel, though, was knocked out in the regional finals. This year, the Mavericks fell in the regional quarterfinals.

With all of Turner's skills and accomplishments, it's no wonder elite college programs are lining up. The only problem will come when she has to choose a school.

"I'm horrible at making decisions," said Turner, who wants to be a sportscaster after she is done playing. "I'm going to have to think really hard and talk to my parents and my coaches."

Howard Turner, though, is confident his daughter will make the right choice.

He said he and his wife already had their opportunities to play college sports. Now that it's Brianna's turn, he wants to make sure it is her decision and no one else's.

Kellye Turner said Brianna has always been talented -- walking at nine months, showing substantial swimming potential in her preteen years and impressing scouts once she decided to focus on basketball.

"I think she got the best attributes from me and her dad," Kellye said. "I think she will do great wherever she goes."