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Edward "Squid" Turner: Continuing His Father's Legacy and Rebuilding Foothill High School Back to Basketball Dominance

By Kyle Wylie

Coordinator of School Support Services

Kern High School District

 

As a kid growing up in the 1970s, Joe Turner dreamed of playing basketball on the center stage. For Turner, his center stage was Foothill High School. However, the center stage was met with some societal issues. The 1970s was a tumultuous time for the nation as social unrest and anxiety seemed to blanket cities across the United States. Turner grew up on the eastside of Bakersfield in the Cottonwood and Lakeview area, and for the students that lived there, they were bused to Foothill High School from their neighborhood. In the 1970s and 1980s, many districts across the nation implemented mandatory busing plans within their district causing angst among different ethnicities. “In the early 80s, I remember there being a lot of ethnic tension at Foothill High School,” recalls Turner, “I know the busing had a role in that, and I remember that there were a lot physical altercations amongst the different races at Foothill. The one thing that seemed to remedy the social unrest at school was sports. The social tension didn’t deter me from Foothill because I knew I wanted to be a Trojan.”

 

As a kid, Turner simply couldn’t wait to be in the spotlight and play for the Foothill Trojans basketball team. “I remember the Foothill High School basketball team vividly in my mind. I remember as a kid watching legends like James Child, Gary Wolfork, Steve Smith, and Paul Wright - they all could jump through the gym and play ball with the best of the best,” states Turner. “They all wore these white jumpsuits with a gold stripe, and when they came out to warm up, the crowd was energized moving them into a frenzy. They were rock stars to all of us kids from the way they dressed and from the way they played. We wanted to be like them, and the kids in the neighborhood couldn’t wait to go to Foothill and play for the Trojans.”

 

When Turner showed up on campus in fall of 1980, many took notice of this tall kid with exceptional basketball talent. As a freshman, Turner was elevated to the varsity team where he saw limited playing time in pre season tournaments, and when league play came around, he finished the season on the JV team. However, for the next three seasons, Turner established himself as one of the best basketball players in the city. “From his sophomore to senior season, Joe made tremendous strides as a player and leader of our team,” states Turner’s Head Coach at Foothill, Dan Shannon. “Joe was a self-made player that put a lot of time in the offseason to improve his game. Joe was the first big man that I ever coached that was a prototype at the forward/big man position. For his size, he was extremely athletic, had great hands, excelled in court awareness, and could run the floor better than anyone. I haven’t seen too many players since Joe that could do what he did at his size,” continued Shannon. With such athleticism, Turner was known around town as “Jumpin’ Joe” for his leaping ability and tenacity on the rebounds. In his senior year, Turner led Foothill to a 23-1 record his senior year, winning the South Yosemite League and a CIF Central Section Valley Championship for the Trojans. Furthermore, he helped Foothill gain the right to play in the CIF State Division 1 State Final Four. Individually, Turner was named the San Joaquin CIF Player of the Year and was selected to the nationally recognized McDonald’s All American Honorable Mention. Outside of basketball, Turner also excelled on the Trojans track and field team for four years, participating in the triple jump, long jump, and high jump, of which he qualified for the Valley in his senior year.

 

Known as "Jumpin' Joe" for his athleticism and jumping ability, Joe Turner was a legend

at Foothill High School and the Bakersfield basketball scene in the early 1980s

 

After playing for the Trojans, Turner was offered a scholarship and played for the University of Arizona under legendary coach, Lute Olson. “Joe was recruited by like 50-75 schools, but Arizona is where he wanted to be,” states Shannon. “Arizona was able to use his athleticism as a 3,4, or 5 making him invaluable as a key contributor for the Wildcats. Joe Turner was a coaches dream - even for Coach Olson.” While Turner was at Arizona, the Wildcats played in the NCAA Tournament 4 years in a row, won two PAC-10 Championships in 1986 and 1988, and made it to the Final Four during Turners senior season, before losing to University of Oklahoma in a tightly contested game.  The Sooners would then lose to the University of Kansas for the national championship. After being a Wildcat, Turner spent eight seasons playing professional basketball in New Zealand, Australia, and Europe before returning home to Bakersfield. With his loyalty to his alma mater, Turner took to working at Foothill as a community counselor and as the head coach for the varsity basketball team. In 2014, Joe Turner was selected to the Foothill High School Hall of Fame for the legacy that he created as a Trojan, and for the accomplishments he achieved in college and beyond.  

 

Joe Turner was a key player for the Arizona Wildcats and Lute Olson from 1984-1988.

Perhaps, Turner’s biggest accomplishment was meeting his wife while he played professionally in New Zealand. Turner met Elaine and the two would marry and end up having four kids in New Zealand. Eventually, the young family decided to move back to Bakersfield to raise a family. Each of their four kids that were born in New Zealand would join dad at work as they attended Foothill High School where they excelled. Jazmin Turner (Class of 2012) Jade Turner (Class of 2014) Ebony Turner (Class of 2015) and Ethan Turner (Class of 2017) all excelled academically, athletically in sports like volleyball and track, and all enrolled in a university after high school. Despite such success in athletics and academics, none of the Turner children carried on their father’s legacy of basketball superstardom.

 

Except for one.

 

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that Joe and Elaine Turner had one more child when they moved to Bakersfield. Edward Russell Lawrence Turner was born January 4, 2001, in Bakersfield, CA. As a kid he was nicknamed “Squid” because of Squidward from his favorite show Sponge Bob Square Pants. This season, young Edward “Squid” has carried on his father’s legacy by establishing himself as one of the top talents in the city of Bakersfield. As a young kid, “Squid” attended Foothill basketball games, as his dad was a coach for both the girls and boys, always having a ball in his hands wanting to play the game at any opportunity. Turner also began working with “Squid” at a young age on balancing techniques and skill work. “Starting when he was three years old, I began working with my son on a wide variety of drills. We would go to the park, and I would work on his balance in the sand boxes and on the jungle gym,” states the elder Turner. “I could tell at a young age, that he was pretty gifted as far as athleticism was concerned and slowly but surely I incorporated basketball drills and he continued to excel.”

 

Joe Turner standing with his son Edward "Squid" Turner in the Foothill High School Gym

 

As “Squid” continued to grow up, his love of basketball did as well. Wesley Davis III, current Head Coach at Foothill High School and whose father is close friends with Joe Turner, recalls seeing “Squid” as a special talent when he was a kid. “I was neighbors with Joe, and I remember seeing ‘Squid’ as a kid with a ball always in his hand. He spent endless hours at Jastro Park playing with older kids. He seemed to get better with each shot and with each game,” recalls Davis. For “Squid” a majority of his basketball as a child was at Jastro Park or at the local Boys and Girls Club as he did not play organized basketball until he was a freshman at Foothill High School. Davis states, “A lot of people don’t realize, that high school was the first time that ‘Squid’ played organized basketball. He has learned a lot in the last three years and continues to grow, but he is no where close to his potential, which is scary.”

 

When “Squid” stepped onto Foothill’s campus his freshman year, he quickly made his presence known on the basketball court. As a freshman, he started on the JV team where he dominated. “As a freshman, ‘Squid’ absolutely dominated the JV level,” recalls David. “My varsity team was off to a rough start where we lost seven straight to open the season. In looking at his play, I decided to bring ‘Squid’ up to varsity in December of his freshman year. We finished the season 8-18 overall and 4-4 in league play. We were able to win some games because of the play of ‘Squid.’” As a freshman, the young Turner ended up averaging just 8 points per game and 6 rebounds per game.

 

Last year, ‘Squid’ continued to gain more and more confidence as a Foothill Trojan. He had a solid sophomore campaign in which he averaged 10 points per game and another 12 rebounds per game. More importantly for “Squid,” his team made the CIF Central Section Division 4 playoffs for the first time in a long time for the Foothill Trojans. “Foothill hadn’t been to the playoffs in well over a decade - since about 2000,” states Davis. “So simply going to the playoffs meant the world to our program and to our school.” Foothill lost in the opening round by five points, yet this loss seemed to motivate “Squid” to take his game to the next level because that coveted valley championship was all he could think about. “After we lost, I wanted to get back to playoffs as quickly as I could,” states the young Turner.

 

"Squid" Turner is focused and determined to bring home

a SEYL League Title and a CIF Central Section Valley Championship

to Foothill High School

 

With an energized focus, “Squid” took to enhancing and improving his game. Part of that process involved playing against some of the top talent in the Central Valley. This past summer, the “Squid” played in the AAU circuit for California United which was run by former Fresno State Bulldog and current Chicago Bulls player, Quincy Pondexter. “Squid” explains, “The competition was elevated,” “From the training sessions, practices, and scrimmages that I had with other players, the level of competition was much better than anything I had ever been apart of. I was fortunate to be able to train with a few NBA players like Quincy Pondexter and Brook Lopez, seeing what it took to get to the next levels of basketball.”  

 

“Squid” reflected on his offseason training as it helped him to focus on various aspects of his game. “My focus now is to keep improving each and every day, being the best player I can for my team. The first goal that I have is for my team on The Hill want to win league, but the ultimate goal is that Valley Championship,” states the young Turner.

 

For his focus and growth, the Foothill Trojans are on a roll. Currently, they are off to the best start in a long time as they are 15-8 and 3-0 in the SEYL. A large part of that is due to the big time performances of “Squid” and his size. At 6’8 with a 7’3 wingspan and 9’6 reach, “Squid” has been unstoppable in the paint. In games against Frontier and Highland he posted triple-doubles in points, rebounds, and blocked shots. Against Highland, his stat line was 22 points, 17 rebounds, 11 blocks, 5 steals, and 4 assists. For the season, he is averaging 15 points, 11 rebounds, 5 blocks, and 2 steals a game. With his stellar performance this season, he has gained a lot of hype around the city of Bakersfield, just like his dad did in the early 1980s. “Despite the hype, ‘Squid’ remains humble,” states Davis. “He actually uses the hype to pump up his teammates. Beyond basketball, Edward is a great person, and I truly believe that he will be special at the next levels of basketball.”

 

Standing at 6 feet 8 inches with a 7 foot 3 inch wingspan and 9 foot 6 inch reach,

"Squid" Turner is an imposing force for the Foothill Trojans.

 

According to “Squid” the best parts of his game, is his defense, long arms, ability to rebound at a high level, and getting his teammates involved. Yet, he is hesitant to talk highly about himself, remaining shy albeit humble about his game. “He is a very special player,” states Davis. “He has a great feel for the game and does the little things that coaches dream of. He knows how to outlet the basketball appropriately and has a strong desire to be unselfish, getting his teammates involved. Sometimes, I want him to take over and be more selfish, but that’s just not who he is.”  Joe Turner also comments about his son “Squid”, “He has a high basketball IQ and I think he could average 40 points a game, but he loves making his teammates look good and providing them with easy buckets.”

 

For “Squid” not only is he focused on the success of his team, but the legacy that was created by his father on the campus of Foothill High School. “I grew up listening to the stories of my father, and I wanted to be part of that Foothill basketball team,” states the young Turner. “I also want to go to Arizona and be a Wildcat just like my dad. The legacy of my father is important to me, and I want to make sure that the legacy is continued.” For his efforts, “Squid” is receiving a lot of attention from colleges to play basketball at the next level. Among the suitors are San Diego St, Fresno St, UC Irvine, and Memphis, but nothing from Arizona, yet. “We will have a signing day for him and it will be him signing to go to Arizona,” indicates Davis. “He is that focused and determined to be a Wildcat.”

 

The legacy that “Squid” is creating at Foothill is leaving a lasting impact on the campus. “Talents like Edward bring pride to our school,” states Athletic Director Mike Biezad. “We get positive publicity and exposure because of his talents, and yet he remains so humble through all of the attention. We as school know we have something special because our games have been well attended with an energized crowd.” Davis further adds, “Foothill was the place to be for basketball in the 1980s and 1990s. We are on the heels of being thirty years removed from our state championship in 1988, so there is a ton of tradition here at Foothill with regards to basketball. “Squid” had been an integral part of bringing those traditions back.”

Extremely athletic and versatile, "Squid" Turner of Foothill High School

has established himself as one of the best basketball players in Kern County.

 

In the early 1980s, “Jumpin Joe” Turner established his legacy as one of the top basketball players to ever play in Bakersfield, while helping to build Foothill High School into a basketball power. In 2018, his son Edward “Squid” Turner is creating his own legacy as one of the top basketball talents in Bakersfield while also helping to rebuild Foothill into a basketball power once again.