“Radar Contact” SOUTH – Florida’s Turuk Rundial
By: Keith Agran
MELBOURNE, FL – It’s just a tad over 1,400 miles between Melbourne and Des Moines, IA, so Wade Christian Academy 2022 forward Turuk Rundial knows a little about covering some ground.
His journey from the Hawkeye State to the Sunshine State for high school is not your average tale of a bright, young man who wants a future in college basketball, resulting in the fairy tale ending. Uprooting your life and having the courage to do something that significant is both terrifying and brave all at the same time, especially for a 14-year old at the time.
But the labor of such a move appears to be showing fruit, as the 6-8, 220 lb big man had a big summer with AAU club East Coast United and sees even bigger things for himself playing and gaining an education at the next level. Here are some topic highlights from my talk with him:
On dealing with Covid’s emergence in March 2020 and keeping fit and sharp:
“All the schools shut down (in FL). My mindset wasn’t even with AAU (at that point), I didn’t know how many things were going to be canceled, so really basketball wasn’t an option. You had to remove yourself from organized basketball, just spend your own time on your own craft, you get the feeling of being a kid again, you have to go outside and put in your own work. It was all individual work, free weight stuff and keeping in the right cardio shape, so I was doing a lot of running, a lot of stuff outside of basketball.”
On leaving Iowa prior to his freshman year of HS to live with family in Florida, spending his first two years at Eaugallie High School:
“The whole reason I even came down to Florida to live with my cousins was they had a more situated financial life, they were more stable (than my real parents). I wanted something better, I didn’t want to follow the crowd, wanted to focus on my career, I was focused on making something better. (My cousins) both graduated from college, very stable in life, they had a family.”
But it wasn’t as smooth a move as he hoped, after Covid emerged his military-affiliated cousins were deployed, the dream of something better almost derailed:
“It was a military family, when Covid hit it was crazy, they had to go move to France. I was really stuck, I didn’t have anywhere to go, but I had a contact, my (future) coach at Wade Christian (Webster Rhodes), I used to go to their Church services and I found out they had a basketball program. We were just talking about what I wanted for myself in life and maybe if he could help me or not. But into the summer I went to visit my Mom and my little brother and baby sister in Iowa during Covid, putting in my own work and reuniting with people. So when the time came to go into my junior season, around July Coach Webster reached out and asked, ‘are you ready to come down?’
But it wasn’t that simple for Rundial to just get on a plane back to Florida, his cousins were still in France and he needed a place to call home if he was going to make the move to Wade Christian full-time. In stepped a savior of sorts, Kara Morrison:
“Connected through my Coach, she (Kara) was like my hostess, I talked to my friends and they all respected my decision (to leave Eaugallie), (and I’ve) been living with her for over a year, it’s kind of been like my 2nd family.”
Stabilized on the homefront, he was able after his junior HS season to get back focused on the critical AAU season to come. East Coast United was stacked with future college players this past summer, and Rundial was able to expand his game playing with such skill around him. He talked about some of the skill development and strength training he plans to utilize his senior year:
“What I’ve been doing to get ready for my big senior season is just getting bigger, built for college. One thing I’ve been working on is my ballhandling and that control of the game, having that patience, that calmness. Over the ECU summer I was really locking into that big man role, the 4 to 5 role, I can easily work out to the mid-range and then also bang out down low. That just comes with strength, I have that soft touch, rare for a big guy, but you have to have that strength to.”
On his expectations for Wade Christian’s upcoming season as a whole:
“It’s going to be a big season, we brought in 3 new players, they’re really good. And our schedule, last year we had a 50-game schedule, and this year it’s 60. It’s serious, the teams we play are real teams, national teams, it’s going to be a way better competition this year.”
The live periods were back this summer and the Class of 2022 benefitted greatly from having coaches back in the gyms. Now, Rundial, despite his impressive measurements and standout play for ECU, has drawn predominantly interest from D2 and D3 schools, which is not to say that’s a bad thing. It speaks to the incredible depth of talent he competes with in the Southeast for attention and the obvious limit of roster spots on D1 teams. That a player with his skills is not garnering more attention from the highest level is not a new story, but there are tremendous opportunities at multiple levels of college basketball, and Rundial is well aware of that and not at all feeling underappreciated.
He’s got an offer from Redlands Community College in Oklahoma, but his grades are in a strong place and he likely won’t need to utilize the JUCO route. Division 2 Florida Tech has been showing medium to high interest, having seen him play and spoken to him, his family and his coaches. A trio of D3 schools too have inquired – Dean College (MA), Northern Vermont University, and Carolina Christian College (NC).
Regardless of the level at which he chooses to play, this is a young man with a great head on his shoulders who has seen his share of hardships, but is humble and grateful about the support he’s received and most crucially remains ever-confident in his abilities and focused on making his dreams come true.
Keith Agran has lived in Georgia since 2011 and joined OTR as a National Evaluator in 2021. He previously scouted for Prep Hoops dating back to 2019 and has both a championship-coaching background on the HS-level and daily newspaper writing experience, both from New Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BracketSage.