Woodstock boys basketball coach Alex Baker recalled a conversation with his assistants during the fall before the Blue Streaks started practice.
The subject was Jordan Turner, Woodstock’s 6-foot-3 senior guard and leading scorer from the previous season, who again would be the player who stirred the Streaks.
“I told them I didn’t think I’ve ever had a player who had as good a sophomore year and junior year as Jordan had, and then improved so much his senior year,” Baker said. “A lot of guys have success and take their foot off the gas a little bit.”
Not Turner. He kept the pedal to the metal. Turner was more driven than ever, working on every aspect of his game and finding another level for his final high school season.
Turner hit shots like he had before, but he also looked to set up others. He gobbled up steals on defense at 2.7 a game. And Woodstock, for the first time since 2001, had a winning season.
For Turner’s performance and leadership, he is the Northwest Herald Boys Basketball Player of the Year, selected by the sports staff with input from area coaches. Crystal Lake Central’s Corban Murphy and Hampshire’s Tyler Crater also received strong consideration for the honor.
Turner, Murphy and Crater are joined on the All-Area first team by Dundee-Crown’s Brandon Rodriguez and Huntley’s Bryce Only.
The second team is comprised of Huntley’s Amanze Egekeze, who missed half the season while recovering from knee surgery, Hampshire’s Shane Hernandez, D-C’s
Dylan Kissack, Crystal Lake South’s Austin Rogers and Central’s Jake Vanscoyoc.
“Last year, I had a great pull-up shot, but I didn’t have as many assists and steals,” Turner said. “I wanted to work on creating for others and just all-around dribbling and shooting.”
Turner scored 17.9 points a game, second to Crater in the area, and helped the Streaks (19-11) improve by 14 victories from last season. They also won the Class 3A Woodstock North Regional, their first such title since 2000.
“I’m most proud of us finally getting the [not winning a] regional off our back,” Turner said. “That was definitely a big one for Woodstock basketball. It was a big win when we went to Crystal Lake Central’s house and beat them when they were 13-1. That was a very good high point of our season.”
Turner held the ball the final 20 seconds of that game and pulled up and drained a 16-footer for a 54-53 win. The Streaks did not keep pace with Central and Hampshire, which shared the Fox Valley Conference Fox Division title, but they still were the area’s most improved team.
“It was fun to see [Turner] progress since the sixth grade,” Streaks senior guard Andy Buhrow said. “He improved his passing definitely. He trusted everybody else more and his shot decisions were a lot better than in the past. I love playing with him. I wouldn’t trade him for anybody else.”
Turner, a Class 3A All-State honorable mention selection by The Associated Press, had NCAA Division III coaches at almost every game. He has narrowed his list to Augustana, Illinois Wesleyan and North Central.
Baker was thrilled to see how Turner added to his all-around game. Turner’s 80 steals are a Woodstock school record and his 177 career steals eclipsed Marty Dello’s school record.
“A lot of stuff [Turner] does gets overlooked for his scoring numbers,” Baker said. “What he did from a leadership standpoint, getting other guys to buy in, was as important as what he did himself. It meant a lot for his performance and for ours as a team.”
Turner, a four-year varsity player, finished No. 2 on the Streaks’ career scoring list (1,447) behind Dan Hill (1,791).
“When I came up as a freshman, I was sixth man,” Turner said. “Then, I really started to contribute as a sophomore. I realized I had the potential to do some really great things and put in a lot of work. We had an enormous season from where we were [5-23] to a 14-win turnaround. Especially for Woodstock that hasn’t had a winning team in a while. I’m pretty overwhelmed that I was lucky enough to play a part in it.”