Kings recruit’s tough journey to Sydney
If it wasn't for basketball, Sydney Kings import power forward Ray Turner doesn't know what his life would entail.
Growing up in South Park, Houston, without a father and only a single mother, Turner turned to trouble as a teen.
He spent a lot of time on the streets until he found a happy outlet through hoops.
Turner credits his guardian and father figure Keith Perry for introducing him to the South Park BallCats, a basketball academy that placed him on the path to redemption.
"It changed my life," Turner told News Corp.
"Before that I was on the streets and it was tough. I had to grind for everything. I honestly don't know where I'd be now if my god family didn't get me involved in basketball.
"That is one of those things where the path I was able to go on has brought me to this route.
"But what I was involved in back in the day when I was a teenager - it wasn't very nice.
"It was a struggle growing up but you overcome all the obstacles that are put in front of you - that is part of life I guess."
Thanks largely to basketball, Turner has turned his life around.
He went on to play at Texas A&M University before landing professional contracts in Cyprus, Japan and Hungary.
Now after Australian domestic stints in Perth, Rockhampton and Bendigo, Turner has signed with the Kings as the team's third import.
It is a result that caps off a remarkable journey for the 28-year-old big man from Houston.
"It's exciting," he said.
"I'm grateful to have an opportunity to come across to Sydney.
"(Andrew) Bogut is a really experienced player and I'm looking forward to seeing how he trains.
"That is definitely something I want to learn and pick up off him.
"Even (Kevin) Lisch being an American who moved to Australia. I'm trying to do the same, so it's good.
"But everyone in the team is really good and humble guys."
Turner's signature provides the Kings with additional depth to the frontcourt as the business end of the NBL season approaches.
He is coming off an excellent 2017/2018 SEABL campaign with the Bendigo Braves.
In 22 games for Bendigo, Turner averaged 22.6 points, 11.0 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game leading the Braves to the SEABL semi-finals and being named to the All-SEABL First Team.
He now has his sights set on continuing a fine tradition of SEABL players making a successful transition to the NBL.
The likes of Bruce Bolden, Eric Cooks and current Cairns coach Mike Kelly all excelled in the big league following time in the SEABL and Turner wants to add his name to the list.
"Hopefully we can make the playoffs and win it all," said Turner, who has lived in Australia permanently for the past two years.
"I've always been a presence in the paint.
"I'm used to being a bigger impact guy but it's still a great opportunity to have a mindset of it not just being about me - it's about the team.
"I'll do whatever it takes to help the team win."
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