After sitting out a season, Boston College transfer A.J. Turner was up-and-down in his first season in a Northwestern uniform. He showed promise, like when he exploded in the second half to lead the Wildcats to a comeback win over DePaul, but his shooting wasn’t up to par for a good chunk of the season. Turner had to play point guard for stretches, a role he really isn’t best suited for, which likely factored into his shooting struggles. Heading into next season, Turner will need to be a go-to shotmaker for Northwestern if the Wildcats want to improve.
With a higher usage rate this season than his previous two at Boston College, Turner shot 33 percent from three (down from his 2016-2017 season when he shot 37 percent.) His assist rate was about the same as his turnover rate, which isn’t great. He showed he was an able playmaker, but not at the level required from a point guard on a good team in the Big Ten. His 8.7 points per game mark wasn’t high enough for a team with a need for perimeter scoring, though there were signs that he can emerge into a bigger scoring role next season. When he was making shots, he often scored in bunches, particularly in the final two games of the season when he made a combined seven threes.
Just under half of Turner’s shots came on threes, and nearly 90 percent of his made threes were assisted. His field goal percentage at the rim was one of the lower figures on the team.
Turner caught fire in many games, and he’s a dangerous scorer when his shot is falling.
Turner’s shot was inconsistent this past season, and he isn’t a natural playmaker, which may not necessarily be an issue if he isn’t playing point guard next season. But he was playing point guard this past season, and the fit wasn’t natural.
With Vic Law and Dererk Pardon gone next season, Turner is probably the best returning scorer on the team, so he’ll need to take an elevated role and take more shots. He’s a capable shooter with a good stroke, but adding a move or two to his scoring repertoire (especially off the dribble) would be a tremendous help. Turner hopefully won’t have to play point guard again next season, but if he does, working on his ball-handling and playmaking off the dribble will be important.
The bottom line
The jury is still out on Turner. This past season was Turner’s first at Northwestern after a season away from the court, so some growing pains were to be expected. He was a streaky shooter who had some good games, but playing out of position in a bad offense where easy looks were difficult to come by certainly hurt his shooting numbers. Turner will need to score a higher clip next season for Northwestern, and he should improve with another season under his belt. The big questions: 1) can he shoot better and be a consistent primary scoring option? and 2) will he have to play point guard again?