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Where are they now?: Clyde Turner

05/24/2004, 12:00am CDT
By Rob Litt

Where Are They Now?

In two years at the University of Minnesota, Clyde Turner became an instant fan favorite and team leader. In the years following his basketball career, Turner has become a community leader, family advocate, and has impacted the lives of thousands of children and young adults in the Twin Cities.

A natural scorer, Turner led the Gophers in scoring his junior and senior seasons (1971-72, 1972-73) after transferring to the 'U' from junior college. A two-time All-Big Ten performer, Turner averaged 18.4 points per game and 6.2 rebounds per game in two years as a Gopher. His career scoring average ranks ninth all-time in Gopher history, and he was an instrumental part of the Gophers' 1972 Big Ten Championship team. The Champaign, Illinois, native scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the title-clinching 91-62 win over Illinois in 1972.

Turner was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks out of college but ultimately played two years in Europe before returning to the University of Minnesota to earn his bachelor's degree. Turner later returned to earn his master's degree in social work.

With his playing days behind him, Turner impacted the state of Minnesota in a much more important and dramatic role, as he has dedicated his professional and personal life to the betterment of Twin Cities children and families. The former Gopher has compiled a professional career, which included 14 years in leadership roles at the Twin Cities Big Brothers/Big Sisters program and 13 years with the Family Alternatives program. He currently works for Ramsey County, where he manages the child protection department.

In addition, Turner has leveraged his basketball experience to impact thousands of lives with his development of the Clyde Turner Basketball Camps, designed to "œprovide a program that meets the personal developmental needs of young people in the Metropolitan area." Turner says the goal is to offer a quality, basketball skill building agenda for youth that includes a career/vocational exploration component to prepare any young person to become an independent and contributing member of our community. This summer marks the 23rd year of the camps, which are offered throughout the summer across the Twin Cities area.

Turner recently spent time with to discuss his memories of the 1972 Big Ten Championship, his relationship with former Gopher coach Bill Musselman, his post-Gopher career dedicated to working with children and families, as well as his thoughts on the current Gopher program. You have had a successful and important career in the Twin Cities. What would you attribute your success to?

Clyde Turner: I am very fortunate, as I get to do something I love every day, and in the process, I get to have an impact on people's lives. Much of the drive I have in my daily life is the fact that I can see dramatic results with the families I work with, and I take great pride in that. Whether it's offering an open ear just to listen or bringing in the necessary resources to help with an individual or family, I am fortunate to have the experience and opportunity to make such decisions. As I look back on my career, I take a lot of pride in my work and results, and I know I would not have been able to make the impact I have if it wasn't for role models and mentors in my life. Is there a specific mentor that has had an impact on your life?

Turner: Oh, definitely. Former Gopher Al Nuness is a very special person in my life. He was actually the assistant coach that recruited me back in the day to the 'U', and we have remained very close friends ever since. I have always viewed him as a mentor, and he has given great advice and friendship through the years. I am grateful for our relationship. What differentiates your basketball camp from others in the community?

Turner: There are many outstanding camps in the area. Coach Monson does a great job with his camps as do the other coaches and athletes. We try to include a strong life component in our camps. Obviously we preach basketball fundamentals, teamwork, and sportsmanship, but we also incorporate the importance of having educational goals and career aspirations. We also cater to the needs of kids that may otherwise not have the opportunity to attend a camp. We do not want money to be a roadblock to our camp. Over the past 20+ years, we have had more than 6,000 student athletes go through our camp. If anyone is interested in more information, please go to Do you get out there and play with the kids to let them know that you still have the touch?

Turner: Each year I suit up a bit and show the kids that I can still shoot. Basketball has been such a big part of my life, and I am lucky to be able give back through it, and I hope that the kids that attend my camp have dreams on and off the court. That being said, every now and then I like to lace up the shoes and teach them a few things about putting the ball in the hole. Thinking back to your days as a Gopher, are there any games that stick out more than others?

Turner: We played Iowa State in a non-conference game, and it was the first game in their new arena. There was a lot of hype around that game all off-season, as it kicked off their new arena and it was a big deal to them. We were able to spoil the fun that night, as we got a big road win. Obviously winning the Big Ten title was very memorable, as was beating Bobby Knight and the Hoosiers with Quinn Buckner. There were also a few games where there were more than 19,000 fans at The Barn and people were sitting in the aisles and it was just nuts. I hope it can get back to that for the program. How did you like playing for Coach Musselman?

Turner: Coach Muss was a very intense guy who loved to win. I was not recruited by him or his staff, and when he became the head coach I actually thought about opting out and going somewhere else. But as soon as he got to the 'U', he challenged me to a game of one-on-one, and I beat him 15-0, and he told me there was no way he was going to let me leave the program. Playing for him was demanding, but I knew he was just trying to get the most out of me as a player and as a team. It was a sad day when he passed. He was a good man that had a passion for the game of basketball. What was practice like under Coach Musselman?

Turner: Practices were like very intense. They were often more intense and more physical than the actual games. But those practices made us men. We hated going through them, but we all knew it was preparing us for the Big Ten. Coach would not accept anything but a physical practice every night. Who was the best player you ever played with?

Turner: Jim Brewer was probably the best teammate I ever played with. He was an animal in practice and in the games. We fed off his intensity. Bob Murphy was also a very underrated player. I always felt he should have gotten a lot more playing time. He was a very good player. What former teammates do you keep in contact with?

Turner: Obviously Al Nuness and I talk often. I also keep in touch with Corky Taylor, Ron Behagen, Dave Winfield, and Kevin Wilson. I had a great group of teammates, and we went through a lot together in a short time. How often do you get to The Barn to watch the team?

Turner: I try to get to as many games as I can. I go to more local high school games than I do Gopher games, as I like to keep in close contact with the guys that go to my camps, but I love going to Gopher games as well. The program needs some stability with its roster. It's hard for the coaches to build continuity when guys are coming in for one or two years. What does it mean to you to be a Golden Gopher?

Turner: It means a lot. I loved my years at the 'U'. I got a great education and got to play basketball at a very high level. The fans have always been great to me, and I hope that I gave them memories as well. Being a Gopher has certainly opened many doors for me professionally here in the Twin Cities, and I have tried to represent the 'U' to the best of my abilities.

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Tag(s): Where Are They Now?