By Jeff Griesch
When Yvonne Turner graduated from Bellevue East High School in 2006, the first-team WBCA All-American and Gatorade Nebraska Player of the Year dreamed of playing in the WNBA. Eleven years later, Turner finally made her dream come true when she earned her first WNBA regular-season appearance as a member of the Phoenix Mercury on Sunday, May 14.
Turner produced two points and a rebound in just over three minutes of action for the Mercury. The 29-year-old rookie became the seventh Husker in history to earn playing time in a regular-season WNBA game, joining current WNBA veteran Jordan Hooper (Connecticut Sun), Lindsey Moore, Kelsey Griffin, Anna DeForge, Danielle Page, Nicole Kubik. Nebraska's first two WNBA players, Kubik (2000) and DeForge (2003-05) also spent time in the league with the Mercury. DeForge was a WNBA All-Star with Phoenix in 2004.
Turner, who earned first-team All-Big 12 honors in her third season as a starting guard at Nebraska in 2010, was a driving force to the most successful season in Husker history. The 2010 Huskers completed an undefeated, 29-0 regular season on their way to a perfect 16-0 mark and a Big 12 regular-season title. Turner, who was teammates with former WNBA Huskers Kelsey Griffin (Connecticut Sun, 2010-14) and Lindsey Moore (Minnesota, 2013-14) on Nebraska's 2010 squad, was the 2010 Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Year. A three-time member of the Big 12 All-Defensive Team, Turner finished her career at No. 5 on Nebraska's all-time list with 229 steals.
A long and speedy guard, Turner also finished No. 3 on the Nebraska career list with 183 three-pointers, while producing 1,101 points to rank among the top 25 scorers in school history.
Although Turner enjoyed an outstanding career at Nebraska, she was not a WNBA draft pick after college and instead caught on professionally with Bundaburg in Australia in 2010-11. She added stops in Germany and Russia, before earning a training camp contract with the San Antonio Silver Stars in 2013. Turner did not make San Antonio's roster though, and continued her career in Turkey before earning another WNBA training camp shot, this time with the Chicago Sky, in 2014.
Again, Turner did not make a WNBA roster and returned to Europe, playing in Spain in 2014-15, and also played in Quito in the Ecuadorian league in the summer of 2015.
In 2016-17, Turner was supposed to join forces with another former Husker - Danielle Page - in Hungary with Uniqa Sopron. Page, a bronze medalist for Serbia in the 2016 Rio Olympics, was forced to miss the entire season while recovering from knee surgery. Turner picked up the slack, averaging 18.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists from her point guard spot.
Turner's outstanding season with Uniqa Sopron followed a 2015-16 season when she averaged 16.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.0 steals per game for Wisla Krakow in the Polish BLK League. Turner, who was Wisla Krakow's leading scorer, was named Eurobasket.com's All-Polish BLK Player of the Year, Import Player of the Year and Guard of the Year.
Turner and the Mercury will be back in action on Wednesday, May 17, when they play host to the Indiana Fever at 9 p.m. (CT).