The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Sports

March 15, 2011

Turpin stays on course

DANVILLE — Growing up, Kiel Turpin heard stories about his father, Mel Turpin, and the success he found on the basketball court.

As a two-time first team All-SEC (Southeastern Conference) member, 1984 SEC scoring leader and sixth overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft, Turpin looked up to his father and looked forward to following in his footsteps. Unfortunately, many of the stories came secondhand.

A distant relationship had always left Turpin longing for closer ties with his father, and learning the news of Mel’s passing last summer in early July left him wishing a better relationship could have existed. But it has since driven him even more to succeed.

“It definitely motivated me to keep moving forward,” Turpin said. “I think the one thing about growing up without him being in my life was just him not coming to my basketball games. But I want to follow in my father’s footsteps. Now that he’s gone, he’s watching me everyday. I think a good way to honor his tradition is to keep playing.”

The current Lincoln College sophomore made a commitment last summer to ensure his future success and to live up to his father’s collegiate legacy. A dedicated offseason workout helped Turpin put on about 30 pounds and improve his game. And despite a highly emotional summer, Turpin has remained focused on his goals.

“I stayed at Lincoln College over the summer and got a job so I could stay in the gym and workout and practice pretty much everyday,” he said. “I think it was around July, my father ended up committing suicide. That kind of shocked me because I wasn’t that close to him but I still wanted him to be involved in my life and make sure he knew who I was and see how successful I was being.

“That was when I was supposed to go to a junior college all-star game and I couldn’t make it to that. That was a slump for me for a couple weeks but coach talked me through it. I kind of got over it and I know he’s in a better place and now he’s looking at me, watching at all times.”

While Turpin knows his father will be watching over him during this year’s national tournament, he also realizes even more eyes will be keying in on him. And it’s his overnight success that has drawn the most attention.

Seeing only limited action in high school at Normal West, the idea of Turpin playing college basketball at any level seemed unimaginable. But Lincoln College coach Kirk Whiteman took a chance on the 6-11 forward, and after a coming out party of sorts in last year’s NJCAA Division II national championship game in which he earned MVP honors, Turpin is hoping to lead his team to back-to-back titles before departing for Tallahassee, Fla. to join coach Leonard Hamilton and the Florida State Seminoles.

With such a rapid rise to success usually comes distractions and roadblocks. But for Turpin, the distractions have been limited.

“Obviously all of the phone calls last spring was a huge eye-opener for somebody out of high school that didn’t get recruited at all, to having Big Ten coaches, ACC coaches and everybody in the world call on him and want to recruit him,” Whiteman said. “It was a pretty overwhelming experience for that time. Obviously his father’s relationship playing at Kentucky for coach Leonard Hamilton helped that situation and was able to make a decision for he and his family during the fall. So he really hasn’t had to deal with a lot of the recruiting process which has allowed him to concentrate on his grades and also playing for us. It’s been good.”

Turpin enters today’s 8:30 p.m. first round game against Lakeland Community College (Kirtland, Ohio) averaging a team-leading 15.9 points per game, eight rebounds and 3.3 blocks. But perhaps his most important contributions to the Lincoln Lynx this season in preparation for the next level have come in leadership, maturity and toughness.

Even through adversity, Whiteman has seen Turpin continue to fight with a strong-willed determination to find even more success.

“It was a really tough summer for him,” Whiteman said. “He got the phone call (about his father) the day he was supposed to fly out to go to Jerry Mullens’ camp. He wasn’t able to go out there and compete at a high level which I thought was really going to help him.

“At the end of the day, he’s taken everything in stride. He comes to practice everyday. He’s taken everything in stride and it’s just good to have him in our corner.”

1
Text Only
Sports
  • SPT - CN0423 - Danville girls track photo 1 Record-setting day for Hall DANVILLE -- Athletes, coaches and fans were all giving advice to Danville sophomore Imani Hall in the high jump. While she appreciated the encouragement, Hall just focused on what she had been doing in practice for the past few weeks and it worked. H

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - CN0423 - Danville baseball photo Vikings no match for Tigers, loss 11-3 DANVILLE -- Urbana came a calling on Danville at Danville Stadium for a Big 12 Conference game with its ace Conner Gremar (Parkland College recruit) on the mound. The Tigers also brought their hitting sticks with them to defeat Danville 11-3. Danvill

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT-CN0423 - Seeger softball photo 1 Patriots take over in sixth, beat Mustangs WEST LEBANON, Ind. - Seeger hosted Fountain Central in softball and the lead went back and forth through much of the game. All that changed in the sixth inning when the Patriots sent 11 batters to the plate and scored a half-dozen runs on seven hits

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Vikings softball easily cruises past Chargers DANVILLE -- Alissa Peelman overcame a tough start and hit a home run as the Danville softball team beat Champaign Centennial 12-2 in Big 12 conference action on Tuesday. Peelman gave up both of the Chargers' runs in the first inning but only gave up

    April 23, 2014

  • SPT - CN0422 - Salt Fork SB photo secondary Storm cruise past Cornjerkers CATLIN -- On a windy and drizzly afternoon in Catlin, two teams with a combined 16 wins and one loss met up in what seemed to be on paper a heavy weight fight in Vermilion Valley Conference play. The Salt Fork Storm came out of the gates strong and b

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - CN0422 - Local roundup photo LOCAL ROUNDUP: Cox tosses no-hitter for Westville DANVILLE -- Westville right-hander Tanner Cox was in total control on Monday against the Schlarman Academy Hilltoppers at Danville Stadium. Cox tossed a five-inning perfect game, striking out 11 of the 15 batters he faced as the Tigers defeated the H

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local Sports Schedule TUESDAY Prep Baseball Fountain Central at Seeger, 3:30 p.m. Turkey Run at Covington, 4 p.m. Heritage at Schlarman Academy, 4:30 p.m. Hoopeston Area at Milford, 4:30 p.m. Urbana at Danville, 4:30 p.m. Prep Softball Fountain Central at Seeger, 3:30 p.m

    April 22, 2014

  • No Headline Provided PREP BASEBALL At Bismarck Oakwood 12, Bismarck-Henning 1 Oakwood 213 121 2 -- 12 16 0 Bismarck-Henning 000 100 0 -- 1 4 4 WP -- Taylor Turner. LP -- Strawser. 2B -- Turner, Slade. RBIs -- Landon Turner 2, Slade 2, Anderson 2, Girton, Vinson, Abbott.

    April 22, 2014

  • SPT- CN0420 - Danville baseball photo 1 Vikings continue to learn Vikings continue to learn BY AARON PATTERSON sports@dancomnews.com

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT- CN0420- NV Softball photo 2 The Mustangs, Falcons split twinbill VEEDERSBURG, Ind. - Too many mistakes cost the Fountain Central softball team any chance of defeating North Vermillion in the first game of their double header. At least that is how Mustang head coach Allison Alexander saw the game. "We had nine erro

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

E-edition
NJCAA Tourney Photos 2014


Check out the action at the NJCAA Division II National Men's Basketball Tournament March 18-22 at DACC. Buy photos from the Commercial-News here: http://smu.gs/1iCWKnP

Must Read
AP Video
U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Raw: Violence Erupts in Rio Near Olympic Venue Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' Obama to Oso: We'll Be Here As Long As It Takes Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers
NDN Video
Stephen Colbert Tells David Letterman His Plan for 'Late Show' Viral: It's Not Pitbull - It's Amy Poehler! Georgetown police officer filmed tripping students Lupita Nyong'o Named People's 'Most Beautiful' Recycling Highlights for Earth Day Peeps Launched into Outer Space NYPD's Twitter Request For Photos Backfires New HBO Go Commercials Capture Awkward Family TV Watching Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Rise of the Milkbots Jenna Dewan-Tatum Strips Down TRENDING: Brian Williams Raps 'Gin and Juice' on ‘Tonight Show’ Middle School heroes rescue students from burning bus WHOPPER OF FISHING STORY: Florida man catches massive Mako shark Maks Chmerkovskiy's "DWTS" Meltdown The many faces of Mike Woodson Ape Builds A Fire And Toasts Marshmallows In Amazing BBC Video Manchester Utd sack manager David Moyes "RHOA's" Dramatic Brawl High school, College Drug Ring Busted In Montgomery County