Brimming with potential
- Cliff Pfenning
- Portland Tribune - Sports
• Lincoln's Latravis Turner is a prospect in two sports
Around Lincoln High, Latravis Turner frequently goes by his initials, which might be one of the reasons he's headed for college as a football player.
'L.T.,' as in Lawrence Taylor.
'I get that all the time,' says Turner, a 6-4 forward in basketball. 'I love it.'
Turner gained attention as a ferocious dunker on Lincoln's 2002-03 Portland Interscholastic League championship team, but he made a name for himself last season in football. He went from being a skinny kid who feared getting hit to an all-state receiver who could wind up on scholarship at Portland State.
He might play basketball for the Vikings, too.
'I'm going to play football in college,' he says. 'But I would like to keep playing basketball. So far, PSU is the only school that's said they want me to do both.
'And I kind of like the idea of staying close to home, so it's looking like I might end up there.'
Turner, who has helped Lincoln go 3-0 in PIL games heading into a home contest with Benson (3-0) tonight, says joining the football team as a junior was something of a life-altering experience.
'Everyone tells me about my potential,' he says. 'It's enough that I wish I would have played four years of football.
'But it's exciting to think about what might happen.'
Turner was a tall, thin kid when he entered Lincoln with several buddies from his flashy middle school hoop team, the Running Bulls. Affiliated with the North Portland youth organization Self Enhancement Inc., that team included Turner, Lincoln guard Omar Leary, forward Alijuah Hale, Jefferson standout Mac Hopson, Grant star Ndamukong Suh, and even Jesuit's Josh Tarver for a time.
At Lincoln, Turner, Leary and Hale were significant contributors by their sophomore season. Coached by Troy Berry, who has since moved to Benson, the Cardinals won the PIL title for the first time in 39 years. Leary was a first-team all-league guard, and Turner was named honorable mention after averaging nearly nine points per game.
Then, as a junior, Turner tried football. He caught seven passes for 169 yards and three touchdowns as part of a complex offense designed by Chad Carlson, who also coaches in the Arena Football League.
As a senior, Turner had 27 catches for 546 yards and 12 touchdowns, figures that were kept modest because the Cardinals had four of the top five receivers in the league.
'I was too skinny when I got to high school and thought I'd get hurt playing football,' Turner says. 'But I'm past that. Now I look at the receivers at schools like Oregon and think of myself being there. I'm not much of a blocker, at least yet, but I could be.'
When the Cardinals won the PIL basketball title two years ago, many predicted greatness for the team and its key returning players, especially Turner and Leary. But Lincoln faltered in 2004 and didn't even reach the state playoffs.
Turner and the 5-10 Leary have plenty of motivation for this season Ñ Leary, particularly, because he has not been hotly recruited despite garnering all-city honors twice.
Leary scored 32 points in Tuesday's win over Grant and is averaging 17 points per game.
'It's frustrating,' he says. 'But I just have to stay positive and keep up my game. Part of it might be schools waiting to see me play well in big games. And I need to get a qualifying SAT score (of 800). Once that happens, I think I'll be all right.'
Having a scholarship offer from Portland State seems to have relaxed Turner, who is averaging more than 16 points a game this season.
As a junior, he worked on developing his 3-point shot, partly to impress college recruiters looking at him as a shooting guard. His natural high school position is forward, and he wasn't a strong outside shooter.
Lincoln coach Jeff Bair says Turner stepped up his play on the summer team, helping lead it to 18 consecutive wins.
'He's stopped (shooting) 3's, and he's just been a great player, a great team leader,' Bair says. 'He takes on our opponents' best big man, he's our go-to guy in the middle, he gets rebounds, passes well É and he might be the best midrange shooter in the league. He fills up a stat sheet.
'This is really his year.'