Turner dominates player of year voting

Updated: April 3, 2010, 12:04 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

INDIANAPOLIS -- As Evan Turner clutched The Associated Press player of the year trophy and posed for yet another photo, he couldn't escape a little ribbing.

"That going to fit at home?" Ohio State teammate David Lighty said Friday as Turner walked past with the award.

"This is going to be a window ornament," Turner shot back as both laughed.

It's got to be a good feeling to receive almost every player of the year honor and have a couple of teammates make a 2-hour drive to see you get the latest one as part of the Final Four festivities.

"They have been there for me my whole career, and they are here now," Turner said. "They really are family, and this shows it."

Turner, a 6-foot-7 junior swingman who averaged 20.3 points, 9.2 rebounds and 5.9 assists, received 54 votes from the 65-member national media panel. Kentucky freshman John Wall was second with nine votes.

Lighty and Dallas Lauderdale never hesitated about making the 175-mile drive from Columbus, Ohio, to see the presentation.

"He told us he was getting this, and we said we'd come," said Lauderdale, who quickly added neither he nor Lighty missed class to be there.

There weren't many people who thought Turner would win national honors after he broke two bones in his back when he fell after a dunk on Dec. 5.

He missed six games -- which the Buckeyes split -- then he returned to lead them to the Big Ten title and a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.

"I was going to be as cautious as I possibly could to make sure he was 100 percent when he came back," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "He would sit and watch practice, dribbling the ball around his chair, between his legs. He was diligent in his work ethic and did a great job."

Turner said awards were the last thing on his mind during those weeks when he was forced to watch his teammates get ready for the conference season.

"I just wanted to get back to my team and be the same player I was," said Turner, who hasn't yet decided whether he will return for his senior season. "I started understanding more that life throws you curveballs, and sometimes it builds a better person in how you deal with that."

And his teammates rewarded him by taking the trophy back to campus in the trunk of their car.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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