John Turner's night of work was done. He had just led his team, The Tombs, to another Kenner League basketball victory with 26 points and 14 rebounds. On his way out of Georgetown's McDonough Arena, he stopped every few feet to shake hands and talk with other players, fans and friends.

Turner was proud and smiling. The 19-year-old, who graduated from Eleanor Roosevelt High School in 1986, had three gold chains hanging from his neck, prompting Dwayne Bryant of the Georgetown Hoyas to remark, "Hey, anyone got a magnet?"

Turner just laughed and continued to hand out greetings. Most spectators at the Kenner League instantly recognized players such as Maryland's Derrick Lewis, Georgetown's Ronnie Highsmith and Flint Hill's Dennis Scott. Being the only junior college player in the league, Turner was virtually unknown, except for the rundown in the league program: John Turner, 6-7, F, Soph., Allegany. Understandably, there were more than a few "Who's that?" after Turner's vicious dunks.

But to coaches and players, Turner was arguably the best player in the Kenner League this year. And after The Tombs lost to the DCI Eagles in the final last week, he was named the league's most valuable player.

"He sure holds his own out here; that's for sure.," said Maryland Coach Bob Wade. "He's a very good player."

Turner will play another season at Allegany Community College in Cumberland, Md., this school year, before looking into a Division I school, provided he meets the academic requirements. He's narrowed his choices to Georgetown, Maryland, North Carolina State and Nevada-Las Vegas, but said, "I want to come home and play."

Georgetown Coach John Thompson said Turner is a recruit and he wouldn't comment.

"Without a doubt, John is going to make a big impact somewhere," Allegany assistant coach Mike Baker said. "All major Division I schools are looking at him. He's definitely an upper Division I player and he should come right in and start."

Playing alongside point guard Rudy Archer, who may start for Maryland this year, Turner led Allegany in points per game (21.4), rebounds (13.1), field goal percentage (57.2) and blocked shots (103). Allegany went 38-3, winning the state and regional JUCO tournaments before losing in the national tournament. Turner had 30 points and 30 rebounds against Prince George's Community College earlier in the season.

This summer, Turner was a force in the Kenner League, averaging more than 20 points and 10 rebounds per game for the Tombs, who were the top seed entering the playoffs.

He is nearly unstoppable in the paint and often connects with a soft, 15-foot jumper. But what gets everyone's attention is his play around the basket, where he has no problem with double-teams and bigger players. In one game, Turner, who is 6 feet 7, 230 pounds, had six slam dunks.

"He's definitely one of the best in the league, probably top three," said American University forward Longmire Harrison. "He's a strong player and he definitely knows what to do with it inside."

Last month against Colonial Parking, Turner slid into the lane and appeared to set up for a reverse layup. Instead, he got inside on his defender at the last instant and slammed the ball two-handed. Moments later, with seemingly nowhere to go, Turner challenged two defenders and went flying over both for a ferocious dunk.

"I don't think about the dunks," he said. "I just try to get as close to the hoop as I can. But it's fun to get the crowd excited."

He averaged 23 points in his senior season at Roosevelt. Unable to meet the academic requirements of Division I colleges, he initially planned on attending Tennessee-Martin, a Division II school. But after his senior season of high school, he changed his mind and enrolled at Allegany.

"I knew I could play in Division I, but I wasn't ready academically," said Turner, who didn't play organized basketball until the ninth grade. "This gives me a chance to work on my classes and improve my game . . . There's a lot of good players in junior college and it will get me ready for the next level {Division I}."

The last junior college player to make a major impact in the Big East was Walter Berry, who attended San Jacinto in Texas. Baker thinks Turner is stronger than Berry and runs the floor like a guard. The Allegany assistant is also impressed with Turner's work ethic.

"It's nice to have the best player on your team who is the hardest worker. He's always in the gym working on his game," Baker said.

Turner, who was one of two junior college players to try out for the Pan American team in May, said it doesn't bother him that junior colleges don't get much recognition. "It's a little frustrating because everyone wants to be seen on TV or in front of big crowds," he said. "But it isn't my time . . . yet."