If change in Josiah Turner is real, Arizona adds a piece

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“It’s his way or the highway,” Arizona junior forward Solomon Hill recently said of his head coach, Sean Miller.

And, for the first few months of the seasons, highly-touted freshman point guard Josiah Turner was learning about “the highway.”

Suspended on Dec. 6 for “violation of team policy,” Turner’s actions had put him under scrutiny in the past, including when Miller sat him for the entirety of Arizona’s 73-63 win over Ball State, in November.

But the tide has changed, it appears.

Miller said Turner is “improving by leaps and bounds,” and, “If he continues to stay on the same path, his future is as bright as we all thought it would be in August before the season started.”

Expectations were sky-high for Turner, and perhaps rightfully so, coming out of high school, being paired with another highly-touted freshman, Nick Johnson, in the backcourt.

But those early-season behavioral problems have bent the curve and it looks like a slower pace and his role as a contributor, rather than a centerpiece, will help his development.

He has been on the upswing.

Turner had six points and five steals in 21 minutes in a win over Arizona State on New Year’s Eve. Before that, he tallied nine points, five assists, and no turnovers against Bryant. (He had nine points, six rebounds and three assists in the Wildcats’ loss to UCLA on Thursday.)

“Guys either have to buy into it or they get left behind,” Hill continued, in that same interview. “No matter how talented they are, if he needs to get (somebody’s attention), he’s going to do whatever he needs to do it.”

Freshman forward Sidiki Johnson didn’t buy in, and is now transferring, but Turner seems to have chosen the other path, the one that keeps him in Tuscon.

If he can continue to be solid, as he has been in recent games, and leave the distractions at the door, he can be a contributor for the ‘Cats in 2012 and the centerpiece he was brought there to be, in the future.

If you needed any proof of his potential, just look here.