Charleston Catholic’s Turner becoming more versatile and vocal ahead of junior season

— by Taylor Kennedy

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Charleston Catholic’s boys basketball team has spent the better part of the last few months searching for ways to get back to the Class AA state tournament after the Irish missed out on it in 2022.

The Irish finished 10-14 last season, but that came while facing nine state tournament qualifying teams from across the four classifications. Charleston Catholic was also ranked atop Class AA in its opponents’ collective win percentage at 66 percent.

Despite losing four seniors, the Irish remain hopeful as fourth-year head coach Hunter Moles returns valuable pieces, including rising junior Jayallen Turner.

As a sophomore, Turner was a first-team all-state selection, marking the fourth straight season the Irish have had a player receive that honor. The 6-foot-3 guard has left Moles impressed with his play through two seasons, and the head coach continues to see improvement in Turner, who averaged 17 points and 5.6 rebounds last season.

Charleston Catholic coach Hunter Moles. Photo by Eddie Ferrari

“Jaylen plays with a great pace to the game,” Moles said. “He knows how to change speeds. You don’t realize how athletic, quick, and strong he is until you watch him in person. He’s gotten in better shape and has grown stronger, allowing him to play with a high motor. He’s in the weight room with me and hardly ever misses.

“He doesn’t just do one thing well. He guards, rebounds, passes and scores at a high level.”

Turner’s game continues to blossom throughout the offseason while competing on several AAU circuits.

“I’ve grown a lot this offseason by really trying to maximize my potential and pushing my limits,” Turner noted. “I’ve been trying to get workouts in the morning, after school, and after weights. I have all the time this summer to work on my craft.”

He is also mindful that developing into more of a leader is a responsibility for Turner as his role expands.

“The biggest thing I think I need to work on is improving my leadership skills,” Turner stated. “I know that the team will go as I go and that they will listen to what I say. Leaders can bring a team together and get them to where they want to be.”

“As a team, we must have chemistry and buy into the system that brings us success. We have a great chance to be special and I don’t plan on being any less.”

Turner got a close look at what it takes to get to the state tournament as a freshman when Aiden Satterfield and Zion Suddeth helped lead the Irish to a Class AA semifinal in 2021. While that was Turner’s only season playing with a pair of players that went on to play collegiately, he has been able to reflect on what he learned from that dynamic duo.

“I try to look at their strengths and apply them to my game,” Turner said. “Their skill sets motivate me to work independently and try to surpass the great things they did.

“The best thing I’ve taken away from them is simple, but it’s to make sure I’m having fun while doing this.”

Moles has seen a similar work ethic in Turner from the previous all-state caliber players he coached.

“He’s been a guy that is the last to leave, gets to practice early, and works with assistant coaches Ra’Shaud Kincaid and Devyn Harris on his game,” Moles said. “Coach Kincaid tweaked his shot as a freshman and he was extremely coachable. He’s bought into our program and is a great teammate.

“He started as a freshman mainly because of his defense and athleticism. Now, his offensive game is exploding. He’s gained the confidence to come out of his shell these last few years. I’m lucky to coach a guy like Jayallen.”

Turner echoed those thoughts and credits Moles for helping him continue to develop with half of his high school career remaining.

“Coach Moles has done so much for me on and off the court,” Turner noted. “Everything he does for me is out of his best interest, and he helps me get to where I want to be.”

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