Myles Turner is an all-new, all-different type of talent for Pacers

NEW YORK -- Twenty-four hours after blowing up Twitter, the tall teenager emerges from a black SUV and onto the New York City streets in relative anonymity.

"Who was that?" his driver asks.

That was Myles Turner, a 19-year-old rookie who plays for the Indiana Pacers.

And on Monday night, the 6-foot-11 Turner officially put himself on the NBA map, blocking LeBron James' dunk attempt late in the fourth quarter -- just three years after he attended LeBron's basketball camp as a high schooler.

"I saw [LeBron's] man got beat and I was like, 'All right, screw it,'" Turner told ESPN.com on Tuesday. "There's no way I can just let him dunk it. It was a close game and a momentum-swinging play, so I just went up, hoped for the best and I happened to end up on the right side of things."

After the game, Turner received some words of encouragement from King James himself. "'Good game, Myles,'" he said LeBron told him. "'Keep working and you'll be good in this league.'"

The Bedford, Texas, native's phone was flooded with text messages when he returned to his locker.

"All my friends and family back home were saying, 'Oh my god! You just blocked LeBron James!' And to see it blow up on social media was cool," Turner said.

In the past two weeks, he has scored 31 points against the defending champion Golden State Warriors, moved into the starting lineup and delivered a clutch rejection that figures to be on highlight reels for a long time.

"I think he's an unusually mature young man, articulate 19-year-old," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "He's very intelligent and he has a good approach, a good feel for being a rookie in the NBA.

"He has a nice humbleness to him, and his work ethic has been a pleasant surprise. He's constantly in the weight room, constantly putting extra shots up and working with the coaches -- and that's a big reason why he's having success."

"He has no fear," Indiana's franchise player, Paul George, added. "Not a lot of guys in his class have emerged this fast, but he seems like he's always ready for the moment."

Tight-knit family

Turner's path to the NBA didn't begin like that of many of his peers: There was no Little Tikes hoop involved.

"[When I was 3], my mom said, 'Nah, get him a real hoop,'" Turner said. "I couldn't even get the ball up that high, but I kept practicing."

Turner, who began playing at the local YMCA when he was 6, said his first breakout game was in eighth grade when he made six 3-pointers.

He grew up in a football-crazed suburb of Dallas, but the brutal physicality of the game proved to be too much for him as a youngster. He loved playing baseball until the seventh grade, but a coach told him he'd never be any good.

An outsider might have ruined baseball for his son, but David Turner ensured that no one would ruin basketball. He made Myles shoot jumper after jumper and learn to play in the post. To the elder Turner, a well-rounded game was necessary for success.

"He has no fear. Not a lot of guys in his class have emerged this fast, but he seems like he's always ready for the moment." Paul George

David and Mary Turner sacrificed much so Myles could travel the AAU circuit in high school. Working overtime wasn't a big deal so long as their son could play the game he loved. A normal week involved playing eight games with five different teams -- including the heralded Texas Select squad.

Turner grew from 6-3 as a freshman at Trinity High School to 6-7 as a sophomore, but he broke his ankle during an AAU game and needed six months of rehab.

"I was at my burnout point," Turner said. "I loved basketball, but I was tired of it. But my parents kept me in line. It was a grind rehabbing, but it made me realize how much I missed the game and how much I had taken it for granted."

During that time, he grew to 6-11 and gained about 30 pounds of muscle in the weight room. Turner led Trinity to the playoffs and then destroyed the tournament circuit over the summer, quickly rising to the level of five-star recruit.

As a senior, he averaged 18.1 points, 12.2 rebounds, 6.8 blocks and 3.5 assists. Eighty-five schools recruited him. A typical day involved texts and phone calls from John Calipari, Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim. His parents eventually had to mandate that coaches communicate with their son only between 6 and 10 p.m.

Turner became a McDonald's All American and played in the Jordan Brand Classic. Ultimately, he decided to attend nearby Texas, the school he rooted for growing up.

Learning about life

College basketball humbled Turner, who had never actually ran plays or dealt with a shot clock before. The game was faster. There was more structure. Balancing class, practices and games proved to be a challenge.

Turner ended up starting just seven games in his freshman season, averaging 10.1 points and 6.5 rebounds over 22.2 minutes per night. Texas finished 20-14 and bowed out in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Afterward, Longhorns coach Rick Barnes was fired. Turner elected to declare for the draft. Critics picked apart his game, which convinced Turner that his draft stock was dropping.

"You turn on the TV and everybody is bashing you, saying you were going to be a top-five pick but now you're going to fall into the second round," Turner said. "Eventually, I had to stop watching SportsCenter."

"You turn on the TV and everybody is bashing you, saying you were going to be a top-five pick but now you're going to fall into the second round. Eventually, I had to stop watching SportsCenter." Myles Turner

Scouts and other NBA types questioned his awkward running style and the potential for injury. In truth, Turner still was acclimating to his fast-growing body. So he hired agent Andy Miller, who had a plan for him. Miller sent Turner to the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, where he went through a battery of tests, which quieted concerns.

Turner said he worked out for eight different NBA teams -- including Indiana. He went to Impact Basketball's training facility in Las Vegas to continue fine-tuning his running technique with a track coach and to strengthen his hips and core with trainer Joe Abunassar.

On June 25, the Pacers took Turner with the No. 11 overall pick. According to team president Larry Bird, Indiana had done its due diligence and felt Turner and his 7-4 wingspan would be a great fit.

"We had him pretty high," Bird said. "There were a lot of big guys in the draft and I just thought the big guys would be gone early and then we'd be looking at some other players. I was surprised, to tell you the truth, that he was there."

Scouts liked Turner's size, length, rim-protection ability and shooting range. But they criticized his inability to play well against elite college programs while also questioning his athleticism. If anything, people thought he'd be a "project."

Check that. Call him unique.

The iconoclast

Bored one day during summer league and with a bad Wi-Fi connection in between workouts, Turner decided he'd style his own hair.

It took 2½ hours and a brush to twist his hair. Now his bunched-up locks are his signature look.

"I just wanted to try something different," said Turner, who formerly sported a mohawk. "For now, this is it. I feel like it makes me stand out and keeps it fresh."

Turner also has a unique fashion sense and hopes to start his own clothing line someday.

For now, though, he's going to continue to enjoy the life of a teenager in the NBA: playing video games like NBA 2K16, Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto and Fallout on his PlayStation 4 with his childhood best friend Cory Carter, a sophomore track and field athlete at nearby Butler University.

"He transferred there, and I told him don't spend $10,000 to $12,000 a year trying to live on campus when you can live with me," Turner said.

Despite becoming a multimillionaire, which led to his parents being able to retire (the first year of his rookie scale contract earns him $2.36 million), Turner still receives an "allowance" from his parents -- or as he prefers to call it, "a monthly budget."

"It's really smart," Turner said. "I don't want to blow all my money, so I only put a certain amount in my account."

He has made one significant purchase, though: his Ford Raptor truck.

Hey, it's unique. His Twitter handle, after all, is @Original_Turner.

"I try to be original in everything I do," Turner said. "I don't try to be like everyone else. If someone's trying to do something, I try to do something else and stay in my lane."

On-the-job training

Armed with the confidence of an improved physique and running style, Turner entered summer league on a mission and averaged 18.7 points. He was able to play freely, like he had in high school.

"If you tell me I can't do something, I'm going to do whatever it takes to do it," he said. "I feel like I'm a very competitive person. ... The best advice I was given is that if someone tells you 'you suck!' say thank you. And if someone tells you 'you're really good,' just say thank you and keep it moving."

But he's had to negotiate an obstacle course of injuries. Turner struggled in training camp with knee tendinitis. He feared developing that dreaded first-round pick prima donna reputation. Then Turner missed the team's regular-season opener after rolling his ankle during the preseason.

He finally made his NBA debut the following night against Memphis on Nov. 29.

"My first bucket was a tip-dunk," Turner said.

Then on Nov. 11, Boston's Kelly Olynyk drove to the basket, and Turner swiped down on the big man's knee, hitting his thumb awkwardly. He tried to stay in, but his thumb was crooked, dangling off to the side.

Tests revealed a torn ligament and a chip fracture. The recovery time was six weeks, which sounded like forever.

"I was finally starting to get good minutes and was becoming a regular member of the rotation," Turner said. So he just went to work.

"I think he's an unusually mature young man ... very intelligent and he has a good approach, a good feel for being a rookie in the NBA. He has a nice humbleness to him, and his work ethic has been a pleasant surprise." Frank Vogel

"I'd rehab and then stay a couple hours to work on my shot and watch film with the assistant coaches," he said. "I was able to study our pick-and-roll coverages on defense and figure out offensive positioning. I also hit the weight room and made my hips even stronger. When I came back, I felt more pop and explosiveness."

Turner returned on Dec. 30 and was brought back slowly. He had his breakout game on Jan. 17 in Denver, with 25 points in 29 minutes. He followed that up with scoring games of 15, 31, 11 and 16. His confidence grew exponentially.

"I had a helluva game against Golden State, scoring 31 points against arguably one of the greatest teams in NBA history. That game, my mindset was 'nobody can stop me,' and I just wanted to keep having that mindset," Turner said.

Turner forced his way into the starting lineup on Jan. 28, when he had 20 points and six rebounds against Atlanta. He's been there ever since.

"Offensively, I've hit a lot of pick-and-pop shots, but I want to be able to create my own shot," said Turner, who has at the very least put himself on the fringes of the NBA Rookie of the Year conversation.

"I also know I'm a decent shot-blocker, but I'm still not elite," Turner added. "I want to get to that level where I'm an elite rim-protector. I know it's not going to come my rookie year, but I want to grow into that type of player."

Watch out, LeBron.