Turbeville takes flight after transfer to Frankford

Fit­ting right in: After trans­fer­ring from Linden­wold High School in New Jer­sey, Den­zel Turbeville has been a foot­ball and bas­ket­ball rev­el­a­tion. MARIA POUCH­NIKOVA / TIMES PHO­TOS

— After help­ing Frank­ford to a foot­ball title, Den­zel Turbeville is mak­ing his mark on the bas­ket­ball court.

Den­zel Turbeville hasn’t been at Frank­ford High School for very long, but it’s safe to say the two-sport star has had no trouble fit­ting in­to his new sur­round­ings.

“My com­fort level is very high right now,” he said. “I feel like I’m rest­ing on a pil­low.”

No won­der. For his seni­or year, Turbeville trans­ferred to Frank­ford from Linden­wold High School in Cam­den County, N.J., and has en­joyed im­me­di­ate suc­cess as a mem­ber of both the foot­ball and bas­ket­ball pro­grams.

Thus, as a seni­or, the 6-foot-5 Turbeville will have only one year to leave his mark on the vast ath­let­ic his­tory at the school. So far, he’s do­ing just fine. 

A tight end and de­fens­ive end for the foot­ball team, the sure-handed Turbeville quickly es­tab­lished him­self as re­cord-set­ting quar­ter­back Tim Di­Gior­gio’s fa­vor­ite tar­get on of­fense, lead­ing the team with 29 catches, 536 yards and four re­ceiv­ing touch­downs (Wydell “Woo Woo” Compton also had four re­ceiv­ing scores). In the pro­cess, Turbeville helped the Pi­on­eers to an un­defeated Pub­lic League sea­son that cul­min­ated in a cham­pi­on­ship. 

Now, Turbeville is im­mersed in­to his role as a key con­trib­ut­or on the Frank­ford bas­ket­ball team. And while it has taken him some time to com­fort­ably trans­ition from foot­ball to hoops sea­son, Turbeville’s ef­forts are be­gin­ning to show di­vidends. 


In last Thursday’s 66-58 Pub­lic League Di­vi­sion A vic­tory against favored Con­sti­tu­tion, Turbeville fought his way to 13 points and 11 re­bounds. The Pi­on­eers led by 11 points at half­time be­fore a late surge saw Con­sti­tu­tion take a two-point lead with the game wind­ing down. With Frank­ford’s backs against the wall, Turbeville re­spon­ded by de­pos­it­ing 11 points and grabbing sev­en re­bounds in the fi­nal frame.

“Some of that had to come from foot­ball,” Turbeville said after the game. “Be­ing ag­gress­ive just comes nat­ur­al to me. For me, it’s all about be­ing around the bas­ket, box­ing out and go­ing back up strong. I just wanted to help keep us in the game, but that’s a team ef­fort right there.”

Turbeville isn’t wrong there, as three oth­er Frank­ford play­ers reached double fig­ures. Ju­ni­or wing guard Joe Rick­etts scored nine of his 16 points in the third quarter, while seni­ors Tyree Tuck­er (13 points) and Don­ald Robin­son (12 points, 10 re­bounds) held off the Gen­er­als’ late push. But the key to the win for Frank­ford (5-7, 3-2 di­vi­sion) was un­doubtedly Turbeville, who gave his team hard-nosed, smart play in crunch time.

“This team, every­body just knows their role,” he said. “Joe, he’s the shoot­er; Ty is more of a pass­er, while Don­ald is a post play­er who can step out and knock down shots. Me, I’m a pound-it guy who wants to get to the ball. We’re com­pet­it­ors. We go hard to the bas­ket, right at your head. We don’t stop. If we shoot it well, the oth­er team … I feel bad for them, be­cause that’s a wrap.”


If Turbeville ex­udes con­fid­ence, it’s be­cause he be­lieves in him­self and in the team­mates around him. He lauded Frank­ford for wel­com­ing him in with open arms as a new trans­fer stu­dent and said he was “proud” to be a part of Frank­ford’s ath­let­ic tra­di­tion, even if it’s only for a year.

“To come in there as a New Jer­sey guy and have them ac­cept me the way they have … it’s been pretty cool,” he said.”

Turbeville’s abil­ity to leap out of his shoes to catch a pass or knock one down on de­fense on the foot­ball field has made him a nat­ur­al fit for Frank­ford’s front court. His length and quick­ness are also a per­fect com­ple­ment to the burly, bru­tish force Robin­son brings to the table.

His head bas­ket­ball coach has cer­tainly been im­pressed with Turbeville’s abil­ity to ad­apt to hoops sea­son so quickly after the highs of a bril­liant foot­ball cam­paign have sub­sided.

“Upon my first en­counter with him, I thought he just looked like an ath­lete,” head coach Dave Huzzard said. “After watch­ing a few foot­ball games, I was con­vinced he could help us out on the court. He was a tough re­ceiv­er who got back up after tak­ing a big-time hit. And des­pite him play­ing no bas­ket­ball un­til foot­ball ended, he’s been able to con­trib­ute from day one.”

Turbeville came off the bench for Frank­ford’s first five games as he grew ac­cus­tomed to the team’s of­fens­ive and de­fens­ive sets, but he’s been a starter ever since. And while Frank­ford is just 5-7 over­all, the Pi­on­eers have shown re­cent signs of life in car­ry­ing a win­ning re­cord in the toughest of the Pub­lic League’s five bas­ket­ball di­vi­sions. 

As Huzzard said, “That’s the type of game we had been los­ing: a lead at the half, a poor third quarter, then los­ing in the end. This time, we played with more en­ergy.”

Of course, much of that had to do with the im­mensely ath­let­ic Turbeville.


“I love the foot­ball men­tal­ity he brings to our team,” Huzzard said. “I was wrong about his abil­ity to score … he has a nose for the bas­ket.”

Turbeville hopes he has a nose for more wins, too, ex­press­ing his de­sire to get this bas­ket­ball team to the play­offs. He had planned to run track in the spring to keep his speed up to par, but said last week that he will in­stead fo­cus on work­ing out and mak­ing sure he’s fully pre­pared for his fresh­man foot­ball sea­son, wherever that may be.

And Turbeville, even with his bas­ket­ball coach stand­ing nearby, left no doubts about which sport he pre­ferred.

“Well, I’d have to say I’m a foot­ball guy,” he said, some­what sheep­ishly.

“You can say it, you’re a foot­ball guy!” Huzzard ex­claimed. “Have you seen his game? Of course he’s a foot­ball guy, but we’re still happy to have him.”

Hap­pi­er than Turbeville is? Prob­ably not.

“Both the foot­ball and bas­ket­ball teams are great ones to play for,” he said. “In both cases, we’re a fam­ily of broth­ers, a fam­ily of play­ers and coaches work­ing to­geth­er. This is ex­actly what I was hop­ing for.” ••

Sports Ed­it­or Ed Mor­rone can be reached at 215-354-3035 or em­or­rone@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at emorrone@bsmphilly.com.

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