Evaluating Ralston Turner to NC State

Wolfpack head coach Mark Gottfried seemingly can’t miss right now (aside from losing some depth with transfers). He improbably reached the Sweet-16. He’s bringing in a top-10 recruiting class (top-5 if Amile Jefferson heads to Raleigh). CJ Leslie returned to school. And now he’s working on the following season. And the first piece of that puzzle is LSU transfer Ralston Turner.

Turner was a fringe consensus top-100 prospect (coming in at No. 100) out of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and had been recruited by Mark Gottfried. His size (6-6) at SG causes all sorts of problems on the perimeter, and while at LSU he was called upon to score. A lot.

Which is the troubling part. He was recently quoted as saying “my shot is the strongest part of my game.” Huh?

However, as a freshman he was asked to partially carry the team. And in doing so he ended up taking a ridiculous 27.5% of the shots when he was on the floor (CJ Leslie didn’t even reach 26% this year). So it’s understandable that he was a high volume, low efficiency player. It’s rare that a freshman (or anyone for that matter) can carry that big of a load and still play efficiently. That year he made 32% of his 3s and 42% of his 2s.

As a sophomore he no longer had to be the man. So it was expected that his metrics would improve. After all, he would be taking shots in the flow of the offense rather than being the offense. And he ended up taking fewer than 20% of the shots.

The good news is that his 3-point % rose to a solid 37%. The bad news is that his 2-point % fell to 37%. His assist rate managed to go down (how that’s possible, I’m not even sure), his turnover rate went up, and he drew far fewer fouls. All things considered his offensive rating remained below 95, which is bad.

But it’s also not unheard of for a player to begin his career like Turner and still blossom into a star. Florida State’s Michael Snaer had a similar first two seasons, and then burst on to the scene as a junior.

The silver lining in this transfer is that Turner will have to sit out a year, though he’ll still be practicing with the team. His skill level is that of a solid high major starter and possibly even an All-Conference candidate. But he needs to find his game. A year of practice will allow him the opportunity to do that. No NC State starter had an offensive efficiency below 100 this year, and with the talent coming into this program there won’t be much playing time for high volume, low efficiency guys. Turner has a year to figure that out.