Clyde Turner, who led the Gophers men's basketball team in scoring as they won the Big Ten Conference title in 1972, died Tuesday morning.
Turner, who had been in hospice care, was 70.
After his playing days, Turner had leadership roles with Twin Cities Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the Family Alternatives program. In 1985, he started a basketball camp for inner-city youth, which he ran for more than 30 years.
A native of Champaign, Ill., Turner came to prominence in the Twin Cities with that 1972 Big Ten title, Minnesota's first since 1937, when they shared the title with Illinois. It was their first outright title since 1919.
The Gophers won the conference championship on the final day of the regular season when they held on to defeat Purdue 49-48 in West Lafayette, Ind., to finish with an 11-3 conference record — one game ahead of Ohio State.
In the victory against Purdue, Bill Musselman, in his first year as the Gophers coach, used just five players. Turner and the other four starters — Bob Nix, Jim Brewer, Dave Winfield and Keith Young — all played the full 40 minutes.
The Gophers' "Iron Five" starting lineup was a result of the aftermath of the regular-season game between the Gophers and Ohio State. The game, played on Jan. 25 at Williams Arena, ended in a brawl. Ohio State won 50-44. After the game, Ron Behagen and Corky Taylor of the Gophers were suspended for the rest of the season and the Gophers primarily used just six or seven players.
A junior college transfer in his first season with the Gophers, Turner helped the Gophers go 7-2 after the Ohio State game. The Big Ten champion got the bid to the NCAA tournament, where the Gophers lost their first game 70-56 to Florida State, which went on to the championship game before losing to UCLA.
Only 25 teams — conference champions — qualified for the NCAA tournament at that time.
Turner, a 6-foot-7 forward, averaged 18.6 points per game to pace the Gophers. After the season, he was named first-team All-Big Ten.
He led the Gophers in scoring again in 1972-73 as he averaged 18.1 points per game and the Gophers finished in second place in the Big Ten. The Gophers' season ended in the quarterfinals of the NIT tournament.
Turner was one of five Gophers selected in the 1973 NBA draft. Behagen, Brewer, Taylor and Winfield were also drafted. Turner was chosen in the fourth round by the Milwaukee Bucks and in the second round of the ABA draft by the Denver Nuggets.
Turner signed with the Bucks, but they eventually cut him. He played two seasons of professional basketball in Europe before returning to the Twin Cities and to finish his degree in education at the university.
One of 14 children in his family, Turner was an all-state basketball player at Champaign Central High School and was a Junior College All-American for Robert Morris Junior College in Carthage, Ill.
As a sophomore at Robert Morris, he averaged 20 points and nine rebounds per game.
After Turner signed a national letter of intent in May 1971 to play for the Gophers, Musselman told the Minneapolis Tribune, "I think he's one of the most talented kids in the junior college ranks. He can rebound, he can score, he can handle the ball."