Thursday, March 26, 1998
Turner will leave Xavier

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Nate Turner had 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting against Fordham.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
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Nate Turner knew there was a chance he would play a lot for Xavier next season. He also thought there was a chance he wouldn't play much.

The 6-foot-8 sophomore from Middletown decided he didn't want to take the risk.

Turner said Wednesday that he is transferring to Lee University, an NAIA school in Cleveland, Tenn., where he will be eligible to compete next season.

Turner, who will finish the academic year at Xavier, said he knows more than two dozen students at Lee University, including several friends from his hometown church. He knows most of the players on the team. And coach Larry Carpenter is a family friend.

Carpenter's teams are 118-96 in six years at Lee, 11-19 last season.

Another plus for Turner is that Lee opened a new music building in 1996. Turner hopes to teach music and maybe coach, too. He plays all percussion instruments, trumpet and piano, and he's teaching himself to play bass guitar.

''I'm very excited to go,'' Turner said. ''I don't want to sit the bench anymore, and I feel like it's best for me to move on to accomplish that goal.''

Turner, 19, was used sparingly this season, playing in just 16 games, totaling only 93 minutes and averaging 2.2 ppg. He played three total minutes over the final 10 games and did not travel with the Musketeers to their NCAA Tournament game in Washington, D.C. because he fell behind academically (''It was only my fault that happened,'' he said). He remained in Cincinnati to attend classes, but said that was no factor in his decision to leave.

''I was under the understanding that I was going to be getting some considerable minutes this year,'' Turner said. ''And for whatever reason that did not happen. I just think coach (Skip Prosser) and I had our differences and it just didn't work out.

''Maybe I could've worked a little harder. I could've done some things maybe before my freshman year to get ready to play, to get myself in better shape. But I felt like I did everything possible this past summer to get in the best shape.''

Turner told Prosser of his plans Monday. ''Nate made the decision and we support him,'' Prosser said. ''It's part of college athletics. He's an excellent young man and I wish him nothing but the best.'' In January, Turner had his most productive two-game stretch as a Musketeer, with 16 points and five rebounds against La Salle and Fordham.

Turner was hampered by injuries as a freshman (elbow, left ankle) and appeared in just 14 games (1.7 ppg). Last fall, he strained his Achilles tendon.

Xavier has at least one scholarship available, but probably will have two. Terrance Payne, who has another year of eligibility left, is not expected to return. Xavier continues to look for junior college big men.