Lowell’s Turkson turning heads this summer
If you ask George Turkson who he models his basketball game after, the soon-to-be 16-year-old will mention names of players who starred well before he was born.
Making it even more unique is the fact that Turkson rattles off names of former NBA stars who were known for their hard work, hustle and defense, and not scoring, shooting and dunking.
“Dennis Rodman, Ben Wallace, Dikembe Mutombo — they’re all defensive players. I love defense, I take pride in defense and protecting the rim and rebounding,” said Turkson, who turns 16 on Aug. 4. “Ben Wallace’s physicality, Dennis Rodman’s tenacity and Dikembe Mutombo’s blocking. I really like watching them and trying to take things off of them.”
Defense is certainly what helped the 6-foot-7, 195-pound Turkson get noticed last winter while starting as a sophomore for Lowell High School. The forward, a lifelong Lowell resident, averaged eight points, 10 rebounds and three blocks per game.
But his offense is now catching up, as he looks to expand his game further from the basket with an improving jumper and face-up game to compliment his impressive athletic ability.
Division 1 college programs have taken notice as well. Turkson has already received offers from Texas A&M, UMass, Siena and Brown.
He’s has been shining on the summer basketball circuit for Mass Rivals Basketball Club. He has also transferred from LHS to Bradford Christian Academy, which will allow him to reclassify as a sophomore and give him another year to develop.
That decision was not an easy one.
“I was kind of skeptical about it at first,” said Turkson. “But I later found out that it was the right decision for me. I need that extra year to develop and get better and work on my skills and crafts, so I can get to my full potential.
“I will definitely miss Lowell High, but I’m still living in the neighborhood, so I’ll still meet up with friends and keep in contact.”
While playing for Lowell High, Turkson was a major shot-blocking presence and an intimidating force in the paint during Merrimack Valley Conference contests. But in the modern game, he knows he needs to sharpen those skills and gain offensive versatility that will allow him to excel on the wing and make the most of his ability to run the floor.
“As a person, George is unbelievable,” said Lowell High head coach Bob Michalczyk. “Nice kid, works hard, he never says anything negative. He’s going to be a sophomore again, so he’s got a lot of time to improve. But he’s getting this interest now and he’s going to keep progressing.”
Turkson also happens to be an exceptional student in the classroom. He carried a 4.5 grade point average at LHS. He thanks his mom, Juliana, who works as a healthcare assistant, and his dad, George Sr., who works as a merchant marine, for encouraging him to hit the books hard.
“Academics are really important. Since a young age, my parents have been teaching me and showing me that education is an important factor in being successful in life,” said Turkson. “It’s not just about basketball.”
Turkson’s Mass Rivals squad has done some extensive traveling this summer, including stops in Alabama and Indiana. Those high-profile events have allowed Turkson to catch the eyes of college coaches and scouts.
He tries his best to keep all the interest in perspective.
“To be honest, I don’t really pay too much attention (to the offers),” he said. “It’s great, it’s showing that I’m working hard and that it’s actually paying off. But at the end of the day, I just want to get better. I know where I’m at right now is not my final destination.”