— 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.
THE BIG FIGHT
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.”
HE’S A BELIEVER
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.
AIMING FOR VICTORY
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org