Barbara Turner, a member of the Houston Rockets, returns home…

Rockets’ Barbara Turner Returns Home To Cleveland With A Proud Legacy The Former Uconn Standout’s Journey Has Taken Her From Prep Star To Groundbreaking Nba Development Coach




Barbara Turner, a member of the Houston Rockets, returns home to Cleveland with a storied career. Her trajectory has taken her from prep star to breakthrough NBA development coach, according to the former UConn standout.

Barbara Turner can inhale many of her childhood memories as the car service driver drives slowly through the outskirts of downtown Cleveland. She looks at her previous house and wonders aloud where the milk crate, which she and her elder brother Cameron used as a basketball goal, might remain.

After a careful circuit of the block, the local gym emerges. Turner honed her basketball abilities here, competing against some of the area’s best males.

East Technical High School is located about 4 miles west, immediately across the street from a set of public housing buildings managed by the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority. It’s the same East Tech that gave us Olympic gold medalists Jesse Owens and Harrison Dillard, as well as Jack Trice, the only African-American to have his name on a Division I football stadium.

On a business trip with the Houston Rockets, one of Cleveland’s most recognized and celebrated female athletes is in town. Because of her busy schedule, she returns to her old mater for the first time in ten years.

It had been an excruciatingly long wait.

“I remember being happy about what I accomplished the previous time I was here, but also feeling some nervousness about moving on to the next chapter of my life,” Turner said.

Turner inspired a community by leading an unlikely girls’ basketball team to an Ohio state championship for the first time. She went on to win two NCAA championships at the University of Connecticut, as well as playing in the WNBA and Turkey. Turner is one of the NBA’s few female player development coaches, and one of only seven women named as assistant coaches. In 2013, she was inducted into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame.

All of this comes from someone who grew up in Cleveland, the poorest big city in the country (30% of residents and 46% of children live in poverty), where violent crime has reached unprecedented proportions.

Turner still calls Cleveland home, despite the fact that he currently lives in Houston.

“It’s home because it’s where I’m loved after showing people that you can make it out of any scenario or circumstance,” Turner added. “I’ll be eternally grateful and indebted to Cleveland.”

Barbara Turner, a member of the Houston Rockets, returns home...

Houston Rockets assistant Barbara Turner during a recent visit to the Cleveland neighborhood she grew up in.

Barbara Turner can inhale many of her childhood memories as the car service driver drives slowly through the outskirts of downtown Cleveland. She looks at her previous house and wonders aloud where the milk crate, which she and her elder brother Cameron used as a basketball goal, might remain.

After a careful circuit of the block, the local gym emerges. Turner honed her basketball abilities here, competing against some of the area’s best males.

East Technical High School is located about 4 miles west, immediately across the street from a set of public housing buildings managed by the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority. It’s the same East Tech that gave us Olympic gold medalists Jesse Owens and Harrison Dillard, as well as Jack Trice, the only African-American to have his name on a Division I football stadium.

On a business trip with the Houston Rockets, one of Cleveland’s most recognized and celebrated female athletes is in town. Because of her busy schedule, she returns to her old mater for the first time in ten years.

It had been an excruciatingly long wait.

“I remember being happy about what I accomplished the previous time I was here, but also feeling some nervousness about moving on to the next chapter of my life,” Turner said.

Turner inspired a community by leading an unlikely girls’ basketball team to an Ohio state championship for the first time. She went on to win two NCAA championships at the University of Connecticut, as well as playing in the WNBA and Turkey. Turner is one of the NBA’s few female player development coaches, and one of only seven women named as assistant coaches. In 2013, she was inducted into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame.

All of this comes from someone who grew up in Cleveland, the poorest big city in the country (30% of residents and 46% of children live in poverty), where violent crime has reached unprecedented proportions.

Turner still calls Cleveland home, despite the fact that he currently lives in Houston.

“It’s home because it’s where I’m loved after showing people that you can make it out of any scenario or circumstance,” Turner added. “I’ll be eternally grateful and indebted to Cleveland.”

Barbara Turner, a member of the Houston Rockets, returns home...

Barbara Turner (right) drives to the hoop against Tennessee centre Ashley Robinson (left) during the NCAA Division I women’s basketball championship in 2004.

The next chapter

Turner resumed her basketball career at UConn, where she was a member of two NCAA championship teams and is one of the Huskies’ all-time scorers and rebounders. She was selected most outstanding player of the Big East tournament and was named to the Big East all-tournament team during her career.

Despite Turner’s on-court success, there was a period of adjustment. She was pushed by the increased competition.

“Because of what was expected, there was a lot of pressure at UConn,” Turner said. “When I got there, they were super duper fantastic and on a roll. It was also the first time I’d been in a situation when all 11 players had excelled in high school.

“I’ve always had a fear of failing, and my will to succeed helps me overcome my fear of failure.” “Success is the only thing that matters to me.”

Her success continued when the Seattle Storm selected her as the 11th overall choice in the WNBA draft. From 2006 until 2009, Turner had an average WNBA career, but she was more consistent in Turkey, one of the top international leagues. She is a naturalized Turkish citizen who recently completed her 15th professional season. Turner took the name Bahar Ozturk (Bahar means spring in English; Ozturk is the last name of the team owner who assisted her in obtaining a passport) after becoming a citizen to demonstrate appreciation for the country and its culture.

“I was able to have a longer career because I was able to play internationally,” Turner remarked. “I made a great deal of money.” I accepted the country and learned about the culture of a place I’ve grown to appreciate.”

Turner’s teaching bug bit him during his stay in Turkey. She began to pay serious attention to European male celebrities such as Luka Doni, Cedi Osman, and Furkan Korkmaz.

Turner remarked, “It gave me a sense of what I need to look for and how I can assist guys to grow.” “It sparked my desire to work in the field of player development.”

Barbara Turner, a member of the Houston Rockets, returns home...

Barbara Turner (left) and Ketia Swanier (right) of the Connecticut Sun talk during a game against the Washington Mystics in 2008.

Making the NBA transition

Last summer, Turner interned with the Rockets under the guidance of her mentor, John Lucas, a former NBA coach who has been a Rockets assistant since 2016. Turner has known Lucas since 2001 when he was the coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. From 2001 to 2003, he assisted with her training.

Turner reached a fork in the road at the end of 2020 and sought advice from her mentor.

“I’m not sure if I’d call it sadness,” Turner said, “but there was a time when I was truly lost because I didn’t know what was next.” “When Lucas asked what I wanted to do, I told him I wanted to work in player development. He was the one who brought me in.”

Turner supported Lucas at his personal camps and performed offseason practices, pre-draft workouts, and camps with NBA prospects while with the Rockets. In July, when the Rockets selected the Turkish centre Alperen engün, a window of opportunity opened. She was hired to support the squad and translate for Engün during the summer league in Las Vegas.

Turner explained, “I had a conversation with Coach [Stephen] Silas and he informed me what my position would be, and the rest is history.”

Turner’s responsibilities include not only translating for Engün but also working out younger players and breaking down footage for the coaching staff, with a focus on the team’s offensive playbook.

“Barbara possesses all four elements of coaching,” Lucas stated. “She’s been a counsellor, a mentor, and a game instructor, and one of her most valuable assets is positive confrontation.” She understands how to provoke young men without offending them.”

Barbara Turner, a member of the Houston Rockets, returns home...

Barbara Turner stands in front of a painting of her that is located at her old high school, East Tech in Cleveland. Turner led East Tech to a state title in 2002.

Once Turner traversed the deserted halls of East Tech on her most recent journey home, she encountered some difficulties. Her tour guide, sports director Leroy Carter, awaited her return with bated breath, eager to show Turner that she was never forgotten.

The trip began with a look around the gym. Behind one basket, a state championship banner hangs on the wall, and behind the opposite basket, a Turner poster hangs. A visit to a trophy case uncovers mementoes from two of the game’s greats, Owens and Dillard, as well as a Turner banner.

Finally, there’s a trip to the indoor track at the school. She pauses after seeing a portrait of Turner and reading her quote after the state title.

“She was probably upset because she felt we had forgotten about her,” Carter added. “Her life is always discussed around here, and we use it as an example for our kids to strive for perfection.”

Turner fought to keep her tears at bay, but she couldn’t stop the flood of emotions.

She expressed her pride by saying, “I felt incredibly proud.” “I think it was even more than when I won the national championship in college because winning here was like winning the national championship.”

“I can’t express how proud I am of myself and what I’ve accomplished since graduating from East Tech. This will be a part of my legacy for the rest of my life.”