The Conversation: Catching up with Ashland University assistant coach Brook Turson – Mansfield News Journal

Posted: June 6, 2020 at 11:47 am


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Brook Turson, who scored over 2,000 points in his Plymouth career, was just promoted as lead assistant in the Ashland University men's basketball program.(Photo: Brian J. Smith/News Journal)

PLYMOUTH - I don't like the terms "former teammate" or "ex-teammate."

If you had a teammate in any sport, that person will always be your teammate. Which is whycthe first guest on The Conversation, a weekly series where I sit down with a local figure in athletics, is my teammate, Brook Turson.

Turson and I played basketball together at Plymouth for the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons before I graduated and got out of the way for his Big Red teams to make trips to the regional tournament.

After learning of his promotion within the Ashland University men's basketball coaching staff, I stopped by Turson's house to meet his new baby girl and catch up with the best basketball player I've ever played with and undeniably, the best player to come from Plymouth High School.

Here is our conversation.

Jake Furr: This promotion, man, it is awesome. I couldn't be happier for you. How cool is this?

Brook Turson: It really is. It is something I have always wanted to do. I had a job opportunity two and a half years ago at West Liberty University to be their lead assistant and I didn't take it because it didn't feel right at the time. Jen and I were about to get married and it just didn't feel right. So I decided to talk with Coach (John) Ellenwood and I told him I would stick around and work on campus (at Ashland University) and work in the admissions office and help out with the basketball program when I can and he was super gracious. He wanted me to be a part of things. This year, Coach (Rob) Gardner getting a job at Lincoln Memorial in Tennessee, which is one of the best Division II schools in the country, Coach Ellenwood asked if I wanted to take the job and I said absolutely without hesitation. It gets me out of admissions and into basketball full-time and I am so thankful. The program Coach Ellenwood has built is the best Division II program in the state of Ohio, there is no doubt in my mind. So to be a part of that for the foreseeable future is special because I was a player there and have a special connection to the program.

JF: For sure, man. Sitting here with you now, I think back to just how much different your life was say six months ago. The responsibility level in your life has increased exponentially with a new baby girl and now a full-time basketball coach as a lead assistant. It seems like a lot for a young guy like yourself.

BT: Oh it is. It is a lot because at the Division II level as a lead assistant, you aren't just a coach and recruiter. You are now a student-athlete academic coach, you handle a budget, you are responsible for equipment so you really get the full spectrum. My wife and I just had a child six weeks ago so I am already in a whirlwind as we work together to learn to be parents and then you through this COVID-19 stuff on top of it. Honestly, having Blair during this pandemic couldn't have been better timing because we get to stay at home with her a lot. The ramifications of this whole thing are incredible to see though as it affects recruiting and people's lives in general. It has been a whirlwind of a month and a half.

JF: That may be the best way to put it because I could only imagine. But it is interesting you bring up recruiting because I feel like that is one of the things that has most changed in sports with this whole pandemic.

BT: Oh it has. There are so many more Zoom meetings and Zoom calls, but I spend more time on the phone calling and texting than I have in the past with guys we are interested in. We can't evaluate kids right now because we can't see them. Sure we look at highlight tapes and we get game film from coaches so I watch a lot of that and evaluate as much as I can. I watch two game films in the morning of a kid we are looking at just to see, OK he is good at this and not good at this and when we get a chance to see him if it matches up with what we see on film. It is so different because Coach Ellenwood has always been very personal with his offers. When we see a player we want, he puts nearly all of his focus on one kid at a time. You are our guy and we want you. This year, it might be a little bit different, but hopefully, this whole thing will make me a better recruiter because now, I can do so many different things and if you can recruit in a time like this, you can recruit in anything.

JF: Will this change recruiting forever or is there any chance things just return to the normal way when all this is behind us?

BT: That is a good question. I think it will change in some aspects, but I don't see it changing drastically. You are still going to have such a huge emphasis on AAU because that is the best level of competition. Now this year, it will be different because college guys like myself and even higher level coaches are going to have to go to a lot more high school games because we haven't been able to go to AAU tournaments to watch kids. We have always gone to high school games before, but this year, it is going to be the most constant evaluation that we can do besides workouts and open gyms in the fall. So it will be different this year, but next year, assuming things get back to normal, it should go back to an emphasis in the summer from shoe circuits to AAU tournaments.

JF: I held on to something you said early about highlight tapes. I feel like those things can be so deceiving. I see them all over social media and of course, every shot is made, there is dunk after dunk and I just feel like as talent evaluation, you can't put a ton of stock into highlight tapes, right? Or am I way off?

Brook Turson was elevated to lead assistant coach at Ashland University in the men's basketball program.(Photo: Ashland University)

BT: There is some truth to that. I like when they are short and concise at about 3-5 minutes. We don't have a ton of time because we get dozens a day from kids. What I want to see on them is show me you can shoot because the main thing I am looking at is your form. I look at the release and the point of the release and if it is a high-arching shot. I know you are going to make the shot or else you wouldn't put it in a highlight tape. But I also want to see you going both directions when handling the ball. I want to see how you are as a passer. Defensively, it is hard to point it out on a highlight tape, but if you put 30-45 seconds in of you playing great defense, that would be great. Everyone is an All-American in a highlight tape so you take it a grain of salt, but it does help, especially with an initial evaluation of a kid.

JF: I know you as a basketball guy. We are teammates and friends so I know it isn't only who you are, but you are making your living off of the game you love. What is it like to be doing this full-time and your only responsibility as far as your career goes?

BT: It is refreshing, I think. I am going to really enjoy what I am doing because I am part of a program I respect and love. Just working with the young men in our program is going to be so rewarding. We don't recruit jerks at Ashland. We look for high-level kids and you are going to have to be a great student and meet our culture values. So to work with people like that and in that environment is going to be refreshing. But, I still want to be a husband and father first. I can't always get wrapped up in basketball, basketball, basketball. Right now, it is easy to do because it is the first thing on my mind in the morning because it is so new, but Coach Ellenwood does a great job of showing how you can incorporate family into your career because he is such an amazing family man with four kids of his own. I know if I have something going on with Jen or Blair, he is going to support me putting my family first. That is one of the nice things about Division II vs high-level and mid-major Division I. There is so much instant need and your time is in high demand. And I can't only be a basketball coach and nor would I want to given my amazing family.

JF: Obviously there have to be head coaching aspirations, right? Ideally, where do you see this career going?

Brook Turson played for Ashland before he became an assistant coach under his coach John Ellenwood. Earlier in the week, Turson was promoted to lead assistant at AU.(Photo: News Journal File Photo)

BT: That is a very good question. You know, playing for my dad like you did, basketball is what I have known for 28 years now. I have learned from so many great coaches. But I just don't know where it is going to go. Right now, I am so thrilled to have this opportunity until coach gets rid of me (laughs). But I would love to be a head coach at some point in time, but I don't see that being anytime soon. There is just so much learning to be done with how to orchestrate a program and also how to be integrated into a community and having so many people to answer to. We will see though. If it leads to another assistant job somewhere, great. If it doesn't and I am at Ashland for 10 years, that would be fine with me, too. We are the best Division II program in the state, so who wouldn't want to be a part of that.

JF: But man, you have a daughter. Your dad coached you. Am I going to see you on the sidelines sometime in the future coaching her in high school? (Laughs)

BT: (Laughs) I don't know if that is in the cards for me. But interestingly enough, my dad said that when he has a grandchild, he would love to coach their travel and youth teams.

JF: Now that is something I have to see!

BT: Well he is already doing it to a certain extent with some step-grandchildren he has and they are all girls, too, so he already has that in his blood. So maybe I will just let him take that over and I can just be a parent in the stands. I already have little patience so I would hate to see what 8- to 10-year old girls do to me; probably make me gray. But it will be so much fun to see where Blair goes in life.

Brook Turson, playing in the 2010 News Journal All-Star Classic, was inducted as part of the charter class in the Plymouth High School Hall of Fame.(Photo: News Journal file photo)

JF: I may just have to buy a ticket to see Coach (Brad) Turson coaching youth basketball. With you two being coaches now, do you pick his brain now more than ever or does he try to talk basketball more when you guys are around each other?

BT: He is so good at not overstepping. He knows this is not my program and that it is Coach Ellenwood's program and I am here to help. If I do have a question about something, my dad is always there and he is and has always been so supportive of what we do at Ashland. He is at every home game with Jen and my mom and everyone else. I know he is there when I need him, but since he stopped coaching, he has taken a step back and is really enjoying what he is doing instead of worrying about basketball all the time. But he is always there.

JF: I look at your life and man you have to be enjoying this right now. You have a newborn baby and now you are a full-time basketball coach. I don't really know if you can call this work.

BT: Oh some days, it is work. The league we play in, at least for next season, has so much travel. We are switching leagues next year so that will be less travel, but we have one more year in the GLIAC. But at the end of the day, it really isn't work. I get to go to the office wearing shorts or sweats with aT-shirt or a hoodie, maybe a hat if I want. When I worked in admissions, I had to wear a shirt and sometimes a tie with slacks and dress shoes. The sweatpants will be welcomed back with open arms. (Laughs) It is not work, especially when you do something you love.

jfurr@gannett.com

740-244-9934

Twitter: @JakeFurr11

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June 6th, 2020 at 11:47 am

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