COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — This is the time of year Evan Turner adores.

The only Naismith National Player of the Year from Ohio State and a man who hit some monumental shots in the month of March now focuses on finding the next generation of heroes.

“Leaving a door open for somebody to follow you through,” Turner said. “And, you know, write their own path.”

Since 2016, Turner has been opening lots of doors. That was the first year he held his Evan Turner Prospect Showcase in Chicago – a chance for unsigned high school seniors and junior college players to further their hoops careers and academics.

“I thought the end result was beautiful: kids get free education because of basketball,” Turner said with a smile. “Whenever you give a kid an opportunity to shine, I think people do what they want with it.”

And what these prospects have done with these chances has been incredible. According to a spokesperson with the showcase, approximately $1.5 million in scholarships have been earned in the seven years of the event’s existence.

This year, Turner is shaking things up and moving the showcase to central Ohio.

“I’m a resident here and Columbus is near and dear to my heart and I believe there is a lot of talent in this city,” he said.

Just like in Chicago, the showcase is free and includes headshots and uniforms among other recruitment tools – and, of course, the platform to impress scouts.

But there is also an academic component – something very important to Turner. 

“The number one thing is education and having you know a plan B to fall back on,” he said. “Understanding the game of life and the rule of life is just to keep moving forward no matter if the ball stops bouncing or not, and I think to hear that, mixed in with basketball, it’s very, very important to have the opportunity to learn more is huge.”

Turner said he’s even run into players who benefited from the showcase – for example, while in Boston, a young man came up to him and said that years ago, he participated in the event in Chicago, which helped him further his education. Now, that young basketball player is a police officer.

“We are all great, we are all special, and we just got to make sure that we keep giving opportunities for kids to, you know, find that and not get cut off at high school,” he said.

This showcase is Saturday, March 25 at Teays Valley High School. The day before, on Friday, March 24, there will be a coaches clinic. So far, 100 players have signed up for the showcase and organizers are looking to add about 100 more.

For more information, visit the Prospect Showcase website.