Observing Ryan Turell

April 6th, 2022

By Alan Lu

I decided to take the time to watch Yeshiva’s 6-7 senior swingman, Ryan Turell, an Orthodox Jewish basketball player that is the best shooter and scorer in NCAA Division III basketball.  I took the time to watch him play in a tournament game against Johns Hopkins that was played on March 4th, with thanks to YouTube via MacsLive.  Turell is known for his sharpshooting prowess and for being a prolific scorer, and he led all Division III players in scoring this year, so I wanted to take the time to watch him play to assess his skills.  I felt this was a good way to do so, as he played in a high stakes, postseason game against a similarly very good team in his league.  Here are my thoughts on how he fared, as well as how his game may translate to the NBA.

Yeshiva’s 6-7 senior swingman, Ryan Turell had a tremendous season in NCAA’s Division III basketball this season, and he is looking to make the jump to the NBA.
Joe Bednarsh and Adena Stevens/ via JTA, via The Times of Israel)

Ryan Turell is a very good shooter who doesn’t command the ball nearly as often as one would expect from a top scorer of one of the best teams on a Division 3 basketball team.  Instead, he looks to get shots within the flow of the offense, and he operates within it as any other member of the team would.  He didn’t start the game by commanding or calling for a lot of shots, and it was really surprising how few shots he took in the first two and a half minutes of the game.  With a player as good as he is at the Division III level, it was shocking that he wasn’t calling for the ball more, looking to score more often in this game, or trying to operate as the lead ball-handler more often.

He excelled at making three-pointers to help provide floor spacing for his team on offense.  He would move quickly off the ball to get it in order to knock down quick, open threes off the catch.  Turell has good footwork, and he will move off the ball to get open from beyond the arc.  He also dribbled to his left late in this game, and Turell was able to make a smooth, step-back three.  He also is a crafty ball handler, and he was able to lean in to draw three free throws on a spot-up three off of a dribble handoff.  He also was able to make a pair of mid-range jumpers, although he did tend to take too many of them, and sometimes he would dribble around for a while and take tough, off-balanced shots that would lead to misses.  

Also, Turell thrived at scoring on hustle plays.  He would tend to get the ball on quick cuts, which would enable him to score around the basket.  He also ran off of a curl cut to get the ball in the middle of the paint, and Turell then dribbled back to score on a smooth, fadeaway, mid-range jumper.  He also did a good job of scoring on strong drives in transition.

In addition, Turell can score on savvy moves from the block.  He also was able to seal his man to get the ball in the post, and Turell then caught a lob to score on a quick tip shot.   However, he missed on a turnaround jumper another time after using a spin move.  Turell isn’t especially fast or quick, but he is crafty with his dribble moves, and he was able to use a pump fake to draw free throws on a patient, left-handed drive to the hoop once.

Plus, Turell showed off adequate playmaking skills.  He is an unselfish player that can make long, accurate passes to set up scores for his teammates.  He was able to dribble his way to the post, and he then threw a swift pass to a cutter to notch an assist.  He also threw a very long, accurate outlet pass off of a defensive rebound to find a teammate ahead on the break to set up a score for him due to possessing solid court vision.  He also can make good passes off the dribble.  Sometimes though, he may think a couple of steps ahead, as his teammates may not always be ready for his passes.  He threw an accurate interior pass off of a drive that ended up bouncing off an unsuspecting teammate that didn’t look for the basketball, which resulted in a turnover.  He also can sometimes struggle to handle the ball when facing significant ball pressure.  On another play, he had a ball poked away from him when handling the ball out of the post to turn it over another time.

Turell didn’t grab many rebounds in this game, but he was able to chase down balls to get his fair share of defensive boards, and sometimes he would bring the ball up afterwards.  However, he had trouble getting to other balls that would be a little more out of his reach, and while he has a solid motor, his lack of elite foot speed or jumping ability would make it tough for him to corral balls where he would have to chase hard after loose balls or stretch out to get the boards.

He also played decent defense in this game.  Turell is an active defender that will look to play passing lanes to get steals and deflections.  He was able to jump a pass quickly to get a steal, as he was able to turn that into fast break points for his team.  He also would deflect passes to make it difficult for his opponents to get their passe through.  He also rotated to contest a three to force a miss.  He also rotated to close out hard on a shooter, as he chased his opponent off of a three-point line to force a ball-handling turnover.  While he doesn’t have great foot speed, he seems to have good concepts and feel for playing in an aggressive switching scheme as he would make quick rotations,  He also would fight through screens when defending an opposing ball handler and cut off penetration using angles to force passes.

On the other hand, his lack of elite athleticism could make it difficult for him to defend at higher levels.  Sometimes, he wouldn’t move his feet very well, and he would struggle to stay in front of quicker ball handlers, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.  Another time, he struggled to get around a screen as he didn’t recover to cut off penetration, and it led to a scramble situation and to his team allowing a basket that time. Overall, Ryan Turell is a smart, skilled swingman that can shoot and score the basketball, and he seems to have a good feel for the game.  He is a very good shooter that can make shots within the flow of the offense, and that could definitely help him in pro ball, especially on a team that employs a motion offense.  On the other hand, he’s not a very good athlete, and his average at best athleticism could make it difficult for him to be as effective at creating his own shot or defending at higher levels.  Still, Turell projects well into a shooting specialist role in the NBA.  He could be a solid option for NBA teams to consider in the mid to late second round of the 2022 draft, and he could project to be a shooting specialist in the NBA similar to former Philadelphia 76ers’ swingman, Hollis Thompson in the association.

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