Board of Education considering renaming Austin-East gym in honor of alumnus, NBA vet Elston Turner

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Sacramento Kings assistant coach Elston Turner in the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 3, in Denver. The Kings won 120-113. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Knox County Board of Education will consider renaming the Austin-East High School gym for one of the schools most talented athletes. Elston Turner led the Roadrunners to its first TSSAA state basketball championship in 1977 before going on to have a career in the NBA.

Turner was named state tournament MVP and the Tennessee State Athlete of the Year according to the nomination form put forth by Tony Grimes. Turner would go on to play collegiately at Ole Miss where he still ranks as No. 1 in minutes played, 4,109; No. 5 in points scored list with 1,805; and No. 5 on the career rebounds list with 828. He is also seventh all time in steals, 155.

“His character is impeccable and he serves as a great ambassador for the community in which he calls home,” Grimes states. “Elston has not only made a significant contribution … to public education in the city and at the high school in which he graduated.

“Elston has led, supported, helped and taught hundreds to raise their self-esteem and to set high goals for themselves, as well as for those around them.”

Turner would be drafted in the second round of the NBA Draft in 1981, No. 43 overall, by the Dallas Mavericks. He would play eight seasons with the Mavericks, Denver Nuggets and Chicago Bulls before getting into coaching. Turner has been an assistant coach for the Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies.

Despite all the accolades and accomplishments on the court, Emerald Youth Foundation CEO Steve Diggs said Turner’s time and financial contributions to the community and city are just as important.

“Elston’s love for his community shows not only through his smile when he talks about his pride for his school and about how important it is for him to give back but also through his continued support of the Austin-East Athletic Department,” Diggs said.

The Knox County Board of Education Naming Facilities Committee will meet at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 23, in the boardroom on the first floor of the Andrew Johnson Building, 912 S. Gay St. to vote on the change.

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