Feb. 27, 2009
By Nari Kalafian
Elston Turner has wanted to play basketball since he was two years old. Ever since he first started playing, Turner has been getting tips from his father and current Houston Rockets assistant coach, Elston Turner, Sr.
"Everything that I've learned has pretty much been from him," Turner said. "When it carries onto the court, it's easier for me because I understand it more than a lot of other people do, because he has a good understanding of the game."
The promising freshman guard has benefited from his father's career. He said he's learned a lot from watching some of the NBA's best players live.
"I went to a lot of practices so I could see a lot of good NBA players and get a feel for how they play," Turner said. "I try to carry my game like them. They were kind of like a role model and I went to pretty much every home game for the past six or seven years of my life."
And if he wasn't at the home games, Turner was around pro players in locker rooms and practices. Even before he was old enough to start school, he was working on his basketball IQ.
Turner, Sr. remembers putting his son in youth camps instead of getting a babysitter while his mom worked, even though he was three or four years younger than the other kids.
"Even when he was the youngest guy, he learned real quickly," Turner, Sr. said. "He's always been a little more advanced and developed a basketball IQ from being around the game."
Averaging just over 13 minutes and three points per game, Turner has been displaying the benefits of his upbringing on the court. UW head coach Lorenzo Romar commended Turner's contributions and mentality.
"Leadership and being mentally tough have helped on the road," Romar said. "Elston plays like an upperclassman, playing fearless basketball. He's beyond his years in terms of his basketball intelligence; he just really understands the game and, in that regard, gives us some versatility from the guard spot."
And as he grows as a player, Romar said he thinks Turner is going to be one of the better guards in the Pac-10.
Turner's 14-point outburst against Arizona in late January provides just a glimpse of the versatility Romar so highly regards.
His father, who emphasized versatility for Turner, isn't able to watch from the stands due to overlapping schedules.
But ask him if his father's absence makes it any harder for him, and there is an understanding of exactly what it is like to have a coach for a dad.
"As soon as he sees my game, he's going to start critiquing me and telling me all the things that I did wrong," Turner said.
In fact, Turner, Sr. has filmed every game his son has played on every level and keeps in mind certain things he'd like to talk to his son about.
"I haven't intervened at all during the season, but there's a long list of things we're going to work on this off-season," Turner, Sr. said. "It's like a tutoring session, and our one-on-one games haven't stopped."
This may be a coach's mentality, but it is also a father's mentality. Turner's father has routinely practiced with his son to make him a better player and a better person.
"I envision and train him to be an all-around player," Turner, Sr. said. "Of course, certain things developed more than the other. I just try to teach him about integrity and to be accountable on all things that you're going to need in life, on and off the court."
While Turner, Sr. acknowledges the difficulty in separating coach and father, he teaches lessons, which come through trial and error, so his son doesn't make the same mistakes he did.
This means handling situations and preparations, and being able to get along with others.
"Everybody at every level that he's played with has loved playing with him," Turner, Sr. said.
Turner said he uses his father's career as motivation to succeed, and hopes to progress through college and carry himself to the next level.
"I want to be more like him, and hopefully I can do something after college that has to do with basketball, either playing or coaching," Turner said.