Landon Turner

Photo: IU Archives

Landon Turner is a former basketball player from Indianapolis, Indiana. He played high school basketball for Indianapolis Arsenal Technical High School and was one of the revered big men to play under head coach Bob Knight. Turner played for the Hoosiers between 1978 and 1981. Landon Turner was involved in a basketball-ending car accident in July of 1981 when his car flipped over. The accident left Turner paralyzed from the chest down.

  • Name: Landon Montel Turner
  • Position: Forward
  • Nationality: USA
  • Age: 50 years old
  • Birthday: September 30, 1960
  • High School: Indianapolis Arsenal Technical High School
  • Height: 6’10” (208 cm)
  • Weight: 235 lbs (107 kg)
  • Seasons: 3 (1978-1979, 1979-1980, 1980-1981)
  • Jersey: #50 (High School) / #32 (College)
  • NBA Draft: 1982 / Round 10 / #228 by the Boston Celtics
  • IU Athletics Hall of Fame: 2012 Inductee

Landon Turner’s Seasons with the Hoosiers

1978-1979 Indiana Basketball Season
Bob Knight (8th Season)
22-12 (10-8 Big Ten)
4th Place Big Ten
šŸ… NIT Champions
1979-1980 Indiana Basketball Season
Bob Knight (9th Season)
21-8 (13-5 Big Ten)
šŸ† 1st Place Big Ten
šŸ… NCAA Sweet Sixteen
1980-1981 Indiana Basketball Season
Bob Knight (10th Season)
26-9 (14-4 Big Ten)
šŸ† 1st Place Big Ten
šŸ† 1981 NCAA Champions

Landon Turner Indiana University Statistics

Season G GS MP FG FGA FG% FT FTA FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
1978-1979 33 13 594 77 142 0.542 28 52 0.538 112 9 15 9 58 76 182
1979-1980 26 12 520 79 163 0.485 34 48 0.708 114 12 14 11 50 72 192
1980-1981 33 18 693 138 246 0.561 38 53 0.717 122 26 15 18 66 91 314
Career 92 43 1807 294 551 0.534 100 153 0.654 348 47 44 38 174 239 688

Landon Turner’s High School Career

Turner was a star at Indianapolis Arsenal Technical High School. He was a member of the 1977 City Championship team. The next season Turner would secure many local and national honors for his play on the court. After the 1978 season, Turner won all-city, sectional, regional, and semi-state awards. He also was named to the Indiana All-Star team.

Photo: Indiana Basketball Hall Of Fame

Moreover, Turner was a Parade Magazine All-American and a McDonald’s All-American.

Landon Turner’s Indiana University Career

In high school, Turner didn’t have to try very hard to score. It all came very naturally, especially considering his unique athleticism. So, Bobby Knight had a difficult motivating Turner to put forward effort on every play.

“Coach thought I could be the best player ever at IU, so when I didn’t play like it, he just went off. He tried to get me to quit. He told me Iā€˜d have a better chance of playing in the NBA than for him. I told him I wasn’t a quitter,” noted Turner.

Photo: IU Archives

During his Indiana University career, Turner started in 43 games out of the 92 total games that he played in. He tallied 688 points and 348 total rebounds during his time with the Hoosiers. Despite only shooting 53.8% behind the free throw line his first year, he improved to over 70% in the seasons following.

Turner’s Car Accident and Life after Basketball

After his 1980-81 breakout season, Turner’s basketball career was just taking off but, tragically, would be derailed during the summer before his senior year. On July 26, 1981, while traveling with a group of friends, Turner lost control of his vehicle causing the car to flip over. The accident left Turner paralyzed from the chest down. It was Coach Bobby Knight left with the difficult task of calling Turner’s parents and informing them of the injuries sustained.

Coach Knight began several fundraisers across the state that ended up raising over $400,000 for Turner.

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“If Landon had been able to play for his senior year, he’d have been one of the top three players in the NBA draft. Here’s a kid who had a million dollars in his hands and he had to watch it float into a fire and burn up,” said Turner’s former teammate Steve Risley. “When Landon woke up after the wreck, the first thing he said was, ‘I had a nightmare.'”

According to rumors, Bobby Knight attended pre-draft camps in Chicago the spring after Turner’s injury and suggested to Boston Celtics’ coach Red Auerbach that they should consider drafting Turner as a symbolic gesture. The Celtics agreed and drafted Turner with the last pick of the 1982 NBA Draft.

“I felt elated that they did for me,” stated Turner.

Turner’s spinal cord injury left him wheelchair-bound. However, the injury occurred in his lower back, allowing him to still have full use of his arms. He eventually would return to IU as a student, routinely driving himself to class and team events. He routinely attended Hoosier basketball games and practices. In fact, he was known for calling out a lazy effort from the team’s bigs, the same way Bobby Knight used to criticize him.

Photo: ESPN

Despite his injuries, Turner became a symbol of perseverance for the Hoosier program and is a mainstay on the IU sidelines and in the locker room.

In 2012, Landon Turner was inducted to the IU Athletics Hall of Fame.

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Contributors: Mike Pudlow