At 6-foot-6, Jermaine Turner is a large presence.
In a gymnasium full of grade schoolers shuffling through basketball drills, his frame towers over the participants like the US Steel building in downtown Pittsburgh.
His sheer size catches your attention, but his larger-than-life personality and charm will captivate you.
When The Scoring Factory’s Andrew Garcia left for a Division I assistant coaching gig, founder Pete Strobl needed to pick a new Academy Director. Strobl summoned Turner, who had been on the staff in some capacity since 2009.
“Promoting Jermaine to Academy Director was a natural progression, as he already worked hand-in-hand with Drew Garcia and was completely comfortable with our system,” Strobl said. “He’s simply an amazing human being that brings a seemingly unlimited amount of energy and passion to everything he does.”
“We’re lucky to have him at The Scoring Factory, and people should expect big things in the near future.”
— The Scoring Factory (@ScoringFactory) July 10, 2018
It’s a quick ascension for Turner, who joined the staff on a full-time basis in the spring of 2017 following the conclusion of his playing career. He initially helped Strobl during the summers when he returned home from overseas, but once he officially hung it up, the decision to enter the coaching ranks full-time was a no-brainer.
“I love the game, and I love to teach,” Turner said.
Turner spent most of his 17-year career in the Irish Super League and even had stints in Switzerland, Finland, Romania and Spain. He guided a pair of Irish teams, St Vincent’s and Killester, to league championships and was named the 2006 finals MVP after leading St Vincent’s to their first Super League title in 12 years. Turner played his college ball at Division II Dowling College, where he was named an All-American in 1999-00 after averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Basketball is all he’s ever known. His passion and enthusiasm for the sport guides his coaching philosophy. He’s technical yet can border on maniacal.
“I coach from the heart,” Turner said. “If I see something wrong, I just can’t let it slide. If somebody is dribbling with the wrong hand on the wrong side of the court, I can’t not let that go. I teach straight from the heart.
“I think it’s the only way I can be genuine. In a single word, I would describe my coaching as passion.”
Now, Turner is tasked with growing a grassroots program that is establishing a significant footprint in the Pittsburgh basketball scene.
“We want to be able to produce the best basketball players in Pittsburgh,” Turner said of The Scoring Factory’s mission. “That’s our goal. That’s why we started the academy.”
Strobl started The Scoring Factory as an alternative to AAU, and the focus to develop young athletes through instruction and not endless games is a stark contrast from its money-driven counterpart. European training models heavily influence the curriculum, and the all-around, skills-based approach mirrors the shifting philosophy in today’s NBA. Positions are less defined; players are being groomed to play multiple spots and take on non-traditional roles.
“We see how the game is shifting to position-less—guys can do pretty much everything,” Turner said of The Scoring Factory. “I think we got a head start on that because we’ve been teaching that since the start.”
“We’re position-less. We don’t teach a position. We don’t see a big kid and say, ‘Hey, here’s some post work.’ Everyone has a chance to bring the ball up. Everyone has a chance to do everything there is to do on the basketball court, because we want everyone to be totally prepared.”
— Alex Gensler (@AlexGensler_) July 17, 2018
Turner added the program is also genderless, and it’s not uncommon to see boys and girls competing with or against each other. The number of girls in the program is growing, too.
The Scoring Factory is offering three girls’ specialty basketball clinics for athletes in grades 5-9 during the month of July. More than 100 girls showed up for the first clinic. The second clinic was last night at Chatham University and had a great turnout, and the third is scheduled for next Wednesday. In addition, Strobl and Turner are weighing whether to add a fall league, which several parents have requested.
— The Scoring Factory (@ScoringFactory) July 18, 2018
It’s Turner’s responsibility to keep the positive momentum going, and he’s prepared to help The Scoring Factory reach new heights.