HE has already emerged as a star in the SEABL, but Bendigo Braves import Ray Turner is hoping to further his basketball journey.
A former star at Texas A&M University, Turner made the move to Bendigo after previously playing for Willeton in Western Australia as well as in Queensland and overseas.
Turner has spent most of his time in Australia though, saying he loves the culture and the competitiveness of the leagues.
And while his primary focus for now is a title with Bendigo, he is aiming to emulate the leap of teammate Jeremy Kendle and crack the NBL ranks.
“Coming here was a bit about playing somewhere else in Australia so I guess everyone gets to see what I can do, and also pushing for those NBL opportunities,” he told the Weekly.
“I love it here in Australia so the NBL is definitely on my mind to try and make that step up one day.”
That process may be made easier by the fact Turner is well on his way to attaining permanent residency in Australia.
He has completed most of the paperwork, and his application now resides with the relevant authorities.
“I’ve done all the tests, I’ve just got to get that final part ticked off,” he said.
Although Kendle used Bendigo as a step to his own NBL stint with Brisbane and Sydney, Turner said he hasn’t sought a great deal of advice from his Braves teammate given how different their situations are.
With the Braves, Turner has reprised a role that Damian Johnson starred in during the Braves’ 2016 championship-winning season, as an athletic big man able to defend both frontcourt and perimeter players.
His addition gives coach Ben Harvey the ability to play both big and small lineups, shifting Turner to either the forward or centre spots depending on personnel.
“I feel like I’m more of a four-man, I’ve played more of that in my career but I’m comfortable playing the five as well,” he said.
”Obviously with the players we have there is an opportunity for me to do both and I think that works well so I’m happy with that.”
His form has been as impressive as his attitude. He is second in the league in scoring (25.3 points per game) and rebounds (12.7).
Turner was also the SEABL player of the week in round four after a dominant weekend in a pair of wins over Mount Gambier and Hobart.
Even as the Braves faltered for the first time last weekend, losing to the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence lineup before beating Canberra, Turner averaged 31 points, nine boards and 3.5 blocks for the weekend.
“I’m really enjoying it here and I think that’s a big reason for how I’m playing,” he said.
“Coach and all the guys have been great helping me to fit in and the way we play suits my strengths so it’s been great.”
The Braves play Melbourne Tigers this weekend before returning home to face Sandringham in the opening game in the new Bendigo stadium on May 25.
Tickets for that match are $5 and are available through Ticketek.
– Joel Peterson