Alumni Athlete Focus: Evan Turner, St. Joseph High School

<p>Indiana Pacers' Evan Turner in action during an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Friday, March 14, 2014, in Philadelphia. | AP Photo/Matt Slocum</p>

Indiana Pacers' Evan Turner in action during an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Friday, March 14, 2014, in Philadelphia. | AP Photo/Matt Slocum

We’re starting a new feature on The Doings that looks at alumni from our area’s various high schools that played sports at the major college and/or pro levels. This edition features former St. Joseph High School, Ohio State University and current Indiana Pacers basketball player Evan Turner.

Birthplace: Chicago

Current profession: NBA player

High school graduating class: St. Joseph High School, 2007

Age: 25

Q. When did you start playing your sport and why?

A. I started playing basketball when I was about 3. My dad was basketball crazy and he always had my brothers and me around the game. When I was 5, he told me I was going to grow up to be a basketball star and I believed him.

Q. What did you enjoy most about playing at your high school?

A. I most enjoyed being able to play for and learn from Coach Pingatore. Each day he pushed me toward greatness and also to be a leader on and off the court. I also enjoyed playing the top competition on big stages while “Charger Nation” supported us.

Q. At what point did you realize you’d be able to play in college (and the pros, if applicable)?

A. I started realizing that I was good enough to play college ball at the end of my sophomore year of high school. There were always a lot of coaches stopping by school, checking out some of my classmates play and I was able to get attention from several NCAA coaches while I competed with my teammates who were being recruited to play at their schools.

Around that same time, I also would grow irritated because I wasn’t getting several “high major” (big Division I schools) looks from the colleges I had in mind. I expressed my frustrations to Coach Pingatore and he told me to remain patient and keep working hard because he believed I could make it to the NBA. Because of that, I always kept the professional option as a goal.

Q. What was the transition like between playing in high school and in college?

A. The transition from high school to college was rough for me at the beginning because I was home sick for a large part of my freshman year of college. I eventually became acclimated and The Ohio State University is still one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Q. Did you have mentors that helped you along the way? If so, tell us a little about him/her.

A. I have always been blessed to have the support of my family throughout my journey. My mom and two brothers always encouraged me to keep focused and not let anything deter me from being successful. Of course, Coach Pingatore was always around to help me through things. My AAU coach, Mike Mullins, definitely gave me the encouragement to be the ideal person on and off the floor and he gave me tough love when I needed it too.

Q. What are you doing now and does anything you learned in sports at St. Joseph still impact you today?

A. Right now, I am playing in the NBA for the Indiana Pacers. I feel like I always take the discipline that I learned from the St. Joseph basketball program and use it in my career today. I was taught to work hard when no one is watching and always be a gentleman because a jerk never wins.

Q. Looking back on your experience at St. Joseph through your current situation, is there anything you would change?

A. There is not a single thing I would change about my experience at St. Joseph High School.

Q. Anything else you would like to say?

A. I’d just like to tell the youth that hard work and perseverance brings rewards. If you have goals in life then try your hardest to reach them. Anything is possible as long as you have confidence and faith.

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