COLUMBIA — For Kaleb Turner, the choice of what college to attend came down to the click of a mouse and a YouTube video.
When Turner, the lone freshman on the Columbia College men's basketball team, graduated from Gateway High School in St. Louis, he took a casual approach to college recruiting. But, after visiting the school and conducting some research on his own, Turner decided that Columbia College was the right choice for him. In his first season, he hopes to prove to his coach that he is a capable player and determine his role on the team.
Concordia Seminary at Columbia College
WHEN: 7 p.m.
WHERE: Arena of Southwell Complex
Columbia College assistant coach Sean Dooley first saw Turner play Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball in Kansas City during the summer of 2008. Dooley knew that Turner would be a good prospect for the school and began to send him information, but the young point guard did not respond to much of the recruitment mail that Columbia College, or any other school, sent him.
“I was just getting mail, not even really looking at it,” Turner said.
Dooley and head coach Bob Burchard still thought Turner would fit in well with the Cougars and they continued to pursue him.
“We lost all of our point guards from the past year, so we really wanted at least one freshman in that position,” Burchard said. “Kaleb is very quick, handles the ball well and is an intelligent defender. All of these qualities are very important in that position.”
Eventually Turner responded to the coaches and visited Columbia College during his senior year of high school. On the visit, he played with the team and toured the facilities, but one element of the program at Columbia College stuck out most to him.
“I liked the coaches, Coach Dooley and Coach Burchard,” Turner said. “I liked their system. It’s all about winning.”
Turner said he knew that getting along with his college coach and being able to handle his style of training would be the key factor in his college choice. Consequently, he did a lot of research into Burchard’s record at Columbia College. In the process, he stumbled upon a YouTube video of Burchard coaching a past Cougar team. Though Turner is not even sure that the coaches know he’s seen this video, he says that seeing his future coach and the way he dealt with his team in this online clip was what ultimately solidified his decision to attend Columbia College.
Once he decided to attend Columbia College, he realized what a great learning opportunity his freshman season could be. As the only freshman, Turner has less experience than his teammates and knows that every day is an opportunity to learn from them.
“It’s just like taking a backseat for now as far as leadership,” Turner said. “I’ve got to listen and learn and sit and go. I’m taking this as a learning experience from the older guys, and working hard in the process.”
Despite being the only freshman, Turner says he is treated as an equal and held to the same standards as all the other players.
“We have a lot of new players, so it’s kind of like everybody’s a freshman really,” he said. “I get treated the same. If you work as hard as everybody else, you’ll fit in.”
Now, after almost three months of practicing, things are falling into place. As a freshman, Turner knows that fitting in and integrating himself into the system is crucial. The team hosts its first opponent Tuesday night in a game against Concordia Seminary, and Turner says that the team’s hard work and dedication should pay off on the court. Although he hopes for a win both tonight and in as many games as possible, he says that all he can do is work his hardest.
“I wouldn’t say that I have any big goals for this year, but I’m just going to try to work hard and let everything fall into place,” he said.