Okay, okay. So I get that virtually all of you come from one of two rather polarized camps. The first are of the opinion that Evan Turner would be an absolute moron to pass up instant guaranteed wealth and fame and have a laundry list of personal anecdotes, historical examples, and an unofficial Evan Turner back MRI you purchased off eBay. The other, unable to take off the scarlet & gray glasses even when you dress your new born. You weren't aware Ray Small #82 baby one-pieces and rompers existed, but the moment you found out, it became painstakingly apparent that those would be all junior would be wearing well beyond his first steps and words. The truth, like most incredibly weighing decision in life, is located somewhere far more nebulous, somewhere ambiguously located out in the ether between the two extremes. Frankly there are no moral absolutes in situations like this, no matter how cut and dry the decision may look from your personal world view, so let's go ahead cut to brass tacks and look at what the reality of the situation is in fact.
The Case to Go
The money, duh. While Evan Turner's family situation from all accounts doesn't even begin to rival the sheer economic necessities surrounding a certain "Byron" Mullens (or face it, the Villain would've split so long ago, the highs and lows of the 2009/'10 season relegated to a season of NCAA Basketball '10 on your PS3), the lure of instantaneous millions to take care of his Mom and himself -- potentially for life -- are pretty luring. We won't delve too deeply into the specificities of NBA capology, but simply put, given that every remotely credible NBA mock draft known to man has ET going #2 overall to whichever team is fortunate enough to have the ping pong balls go there way, he's likely looking at a first year salary of roughly $3,835,600 (per folks who've gone to far greater lengths to number crunch and research these sorts of things). The life of The Villain's initial 5-year deal, should he leave right this moment and go second overall in the draft, would come approximately to the tune of $25,200,700 in total. Perhaps most advantageously, E.T. would be one year closer to release from his initial rookie contract, and one step closer towards his first true open market deal, where the real absurd, unbelievable numbers begin to get flashed around. This is to say nothing of the potential marketing opportunities or side hustles Evan could take advantage of as the result of his new career. At this juncture in the process, Turner unquestionably lacks the draw/appeal/marketability of a John Wall, but could very easily garner a deal to exclusively rock one brand vs. another the way many ballers who may not have the prestige of their own shoe are asked to do (as a Chicago guy favored by Kobe is it that ridiculous to imagine the Kid E.T. in a slick pair of Jordans?)
The Case to Stay
Suppose much like James Laurinaitis, Marcus Freeman, Alex Boone, and Malcolm Jenkins before him, Evan feels a certain obligation, a sense of duty that unfinished business remains out there, even drawing at him like a siren. While even coming back somewhat unexpectedly for a third year was rewarding, the lack of overall team success that can only be fulfilled by a Final Four (or beyond) run could be gnawing deep in the recesses of Evan's subconscious. And that's not even mentioning the unique, once-in-a-lifetime, other-wordly experience (and accompanying perks) of being a student athlete at The Ohio State University. Hell, as just half of that equation (unsurprisingly the student part), I stuck around Columbus for 4 years and 2 bonus quarters. I won't even hesitate to say if money was no object, I'd still be studying and pursuing academic opportunities and interests on campus in some capacity. Being a Buckeye is, frankly, a pretty awesome thing. Motive aside, the great Adam Jardy over at the Buckeye Sports Bulletin (subscribe to them if you aren't already, y'all) passed along a few choice quotes along the lines of the 4 juniors making their infamous post-game related to some of the sentiments immediately following the heart breaking defeat at the hands of the Volunteers:
Junior guard Jon Diebler was asked if the way the season ended would make it more likely for Turner to return. “I think so, because he’s a competitor and he hates losing,” said Diebler, who is also Turner’s roommate. “He knows how far we could’ve gotten this year. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Yeah, we got to the Sweet 16 but as a group we had higher expectations.” Senior guard P.J. Hill, who served as Turner’s seldom-used backup this season, said he thinks Turner will return for another year. “He said he’s coming back, so that’s what we’re planning on: that’s he coming back,” Hill said. “He’s been saying that he’s going to come back but he wants to focus on this season and deal with everything else next year but he’s going to be back. I plan on him being back.It also can't hurt to have a pretty talented advocate in her own right who already happens to have his eye on board the side's cause.
Naturally we get back to where we started: the money. There aren't a ton of examples of NBA seniors who'd be top 3 lottery picks staying well beyond their point of diminishing marginal returns (simply put that point at which the benefits begin to be outweighed by the cons) recently in hoops -- certainly Matt Leinart and Brady Quinn loom ominously on the football side of the ledger, though the NFL Draft is a different beast in its own right all together -- largely because the most talented ones seldom make it much past year one (or year two if us selfish college hoops fans are lucky in the least). Certainly we've seen the likes of Tyler Hansbrough and J.J. Reddick go a full four years and still wind up late lottery picks, but those two were never much in the running for the high lottery echelon consideration E.T. presently finds him in.
So let's play out the doomsday scenario for Turner: worst case scenario is obviously some sort of repeat of the horrific back injury that cost Turner two months and at one point was feared could jeopardize his year (or beyond). A serious injury forces E.T. to fall back on his "Pre-Family Financial Planning" (read: B.A. of Shooty Hoops) degree and a sizable (though far less than $25 million) insurance policy that athletes of Evan's stature often take out when making decisions like the one he'd be making. But in terms of worst case basketball-based scenario, let's speculate another 40-some odd games of analyzing game tape lead the scouts to begin to bore/sour/find obscure flaws in The Villain's game they didn't see prior, push comes to shove and E.T. falls into the 6th-to-10th pick range. Compared to the previous figure of going #2 overall in the 2010 draft, going 10th in the 2011 draft accounts for a 5-year deal of $12,475,700 guaranteed money. That's a $13 million dollar potential reverse-windfall. Again, without getting economic'sy, there are plenty of counter arguments that these can be more than made up with Turner's play necessitating that huge free market deal for the 6th year (and beyond) of Turner's career. Great play = more lucrative endorsements, more revenues from other incidentals, an additional multipliers. Looking at $13 million dollars as a more than 50% net loss is a pretty cut & dry argument in favor for departing now, but looking at is but, let's say, $13 million loss out of a potential career potential earning ceiling of something in the $90 million range, and all of the sudden Turner is not even looking at a 14% loss to enjoy another year of the college experience, getting a degree, and enjoying all the incidentals that come along with it. I'm not arguing one way or the other, just pointing out that numbers, particularly from a financial standpoint, aren't as linear as they sometimes appear in situations such as these.
In closing, it's definitely easy to get drawn up in exercises in futility such as this. At the end of the day, this is Evan and Evan alone's decision. I can't imagine his Mom wouldn't disagree that having a degree with "The Ohio State University" at the top would make her just as proud as seeing him excite tens of thousands on a nightly basis while earning tens of millions, but then again, to play devil's advocate, who's to say he can't do both? Your move, E.T.