Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Blair Academy Point Guard Matt Turner Poised to Get More High-Major Offers
BLAIRSTOWN, N.J. – Matt Turner transferred from Trumbull (CT) High School to Blair Academy because he knew he had to step up his level of competition.
“I left after my sophomore year and came here,” the 6-foot-4, 180-pound Class of 2017 point guard told me Monday at Blair. “It was a good program and I liked the coach a lot but I just felt I wasn’t getting pushed enough and I felt I could maximize my potential when I come to Blair.”
So far, so good.
Turner is now playing alongside several other high-major Class of 2017 prospects in 6-7 wing Kodye Pugh, who transferred from Boys Latin in Maryland, and 6-11 Deng Gak, who came over from Australia.
Together, the trio helped lead Blair to a rout of Spire Sports Academy (Ohio) in a scrimmage on Tuesday.
Turner was very impressive, defending aggressively, running his team with authority, using his height to see over opposing defenders and repeatedly draining long-distance 3-pointers.
“He has great handle and court vision,” Spire coach Bobby Bossman said. “He has a high IQ and a very high motor. He’s tough on a defensive end. The kid’s a player.”
Gak and Pugh say Turner can not only shoot it and run the team, but is helping them get better, too.
“I love playing with Matt, he’s good,” said Gak. “I haven’t really played with a point guard who can score like him, so it’s cool. He wants me to catch the ball, so if I’m not calling for the ball, he’ll tell me, ‘Deng, come get it.'”
Added Pugh: “He’s a scoring point guard so whenever he needs to score, he can score, so he can really shoot the ball. But he’s also a great distributor. He loves giving us the ball when we’re hot or we got it going so he’s a great basketball player and he just lets the game come to him.”
Seton Hall was the first school to offer Turner and Rutgers has since followed suit. He also has interest from Villanova, Georgetown, Virginia, Providence and St. Joe’s, among others. He plans to take visits to most of those schools soon.
As for Seton Hall, he said, “I love the coach [Kevin Willard]. As of right now I’m hoping to get a lot more high-major offers and prove that I belong. They were the first high-major program that expressed interest in me and I like how they push their players and their guards.”
Turner has already visited Rutgers and plans to visit again, he said.
“I love the huge campus,” he said. “I love the way they push their players also and they play in the Big Ten, so that’s one of the best conferences you can get.”
As for Villanova, he said he’s being recruited by assistant Ashley Howard and “he’s planning on having me visit campus.”
He recently visited Georgetown for Midnight Madness.
“I loved the campus,” he said. “Great academics, which is my biggest priority when I go to college. Love everything about the coach and they really push their players to compete, and I really like that.”
Considering Blair will play a highly competitive schedule against the likes of Cushing Academy, St. Benedict’s, St. Anthony’s, Hudson Catholic and Montverde (FL) Academy, Turner and his teammates figure to get a lot of exposure going forward.
“Matt is the most skilled guard I have ever coached at any level,” said Blair coach Joe Mantegna, who has coached NBA players Luol Deng and Charlie Villanueva. “He works relentlessly on his game. His ability to run a team and consistently defend at a high level is quickly improving as well.
“He has a high-major skill set and he’s a good kid, too.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.