From Mid-South Community College
"When in doubt, still try out."
That's the message Kim Turner has after participating in a tryout for the Women's National Basketball Association's Tulsa Shock, coached by Nolan Richardson. The assistant women's coach at Mid-South Community College said she gained an appreciation for the talent at the highest level of women's basketball and enjoyed an experience that will enhance her coaching career.
Turner heard about the opportunity from MSCC men's head coach Andy Stoglin after he watched her play with the Lady Greyhounds during one of the women's practices. "Coach Stoglin encouraged me to try out because he said that Coach Richardson loved shooters and I had a great shot," Turner said.
She kept her game sharp by playing in recreational leagues in Memphis and began serious preparations in February when the Lady Greyhounds' season ended. Then, at the end of April, she traveled to Oklahoma as one of 49 players vying for two invitations to training camp.
"I really didn't know the process," Turner said. "I was just trying not to think about that, just playing my game and doing my best. I was pretty anxious, so I ate light that morning. I knew I had a big day."
The tryout consisted of several drills and a controlled scrimmage that allowed coaches to evaluate the players. The drills came as no surprise to Turner because they were similar to the ones used by MSCC women's head coach Chris Parker, who worked under two former Richardson assistants, including Stoglin.
"I was very familiar with the drills, and I even knew which drills we were about to do," she said.
From the original 49 players, only eight were selected to attend the next tryout where they joined 12 other invitees. From that session, only two were chosen to attend the Shock's training camp.
While she didn't beat the odds to earn an invitation to camp, Turner's upbeat personality never wavered.
"It was a great experience that will help me be a better coach, to understand the highest level of women's basketball," Turner said.
Born and raised in West Memphis, Turner first made a name for herself on the court as a West Memphis High School Lady Blue Devil under head coach Sheila Burns. A two-time All-State forward, she led her team to three consecutive Final Fours, including the state championship game her senior season.
Turner then played her freshman season at Wabash Valley College in Illinois before becoming one of the country's Top 100 recruits at Hiwassee Community College in Tennessee. Turner later signed with Division I Coastal Carolina University in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where she played two years, started in 53 of 54 games, earned All-Big South honors both seasons and finished fourth in the conference in scoring and sixth in rebounding.
After signing with an agent immediately after her senior season, Turner took an opportunity to play professional basketball in Portugal where she averaged 18.5 points and nine rebounds per game. Although her team, Olivais Clube, wanted her to return the following season, they could no longer afford her services, so she returned to South Carolina to finish her degree before returning home to West Memphis.
Turner then heard about MSCC starting a basketball program and decided to "try out" for a position on the staff. MSCC women's head coach Chris Parker interviewed and targeted her immediately for her experience both on the court and in the area.
"She has a strong basketball background," said Parker. "She understands both the game and the coaching business, so I was confident that she would be a huge asset for our program and Mid-South Community College. And after coaching with her for a season, I can tell you that she's a natural coach."
About a month after she was hired at MSCC, Turner met Coach Richardson who had come to town to promote the MSCC Athletic Booster Club. When the tryout opportunity presented itself later in the school year, she gave it a shot.
"I played and had fun; it was a good experience," Turner said. "It also helped me to compete within myself. I hope (the experience) will inspire others and help me build rapport with my players. Hopefully they'll listen to me because I've been there. If it's your dream, it doesn't hurt to try."