AVALON - Evan Turner wasn't even a member of the Philadelphia 76ers yet when general manager Ed Stefanski told him to mark July 31 on his calendar.
Turner, the No. 2 pick in the NBA draft by the Sixers, was the main attraction for the Sixers Beach Bash on Saturday at Jack's Place, a bar across from the bay on 36th Street.
"We kind of knew who we were drafting, obviously, with (John) Wall going No. 1 to Washington," Stefanski said. "I told (Turner's) agent and his manager there was no (argument) - he was coming on this date. I said to make sure that he will be here.
"And Evan is here, and it's great for the organization to have this buzz. The fans are super-excited about him coming."
Turner signed autographs under a tent in the bar's parking lot for a line of people that flowed into the street.
"It's even more than what I expected," said Turner, a shooting guard and the consensus NCAA player of the year last season at Ohio State University. "This is a fun day and a fun event. I'm enjoying myself. I'm glad we have fans out here in New Jersey."
Turner, 21, signed everything from photos and posters to shoes and hats. He chatted with fans, too, smiling the whole time.
"I know he's going to be great this year for the Sixers, and it was awesome to meet him," said 10-year-old Quinn Kiernan of Manasquan.
While many fans said they come to the Beach Bash every year, some came just to see Turner. Point guard Jrue Holiday was here last year and forward Thaddeus Young in 2008, but it's been several years since someone as popular as Turner came to the Beach Bash.
"I was going down to get the keys to my (vacation rental in Stone Harbor) when I saw this going on," said Kevin Zimmerman, 28, of Myerstown, Pa. "I went around the corner and (Turner) pulled up.
"And now here we are standing in line. I was completely shocked."
Avalon resident Michael Crovo, who has worked at Jack's for six years, said the crowd was bigger than usual.
"I think it is due to Evan Turner," Crovo said. "A lot of people are here to see him."
Event organizer Jennifer Davenport said getting Turner to attend was important to keep fans interested, even though the season doesn't start until October.
"It's a nice way for the Sixers to kind of mingle and keep their name out there when people aren't really thinking basketball," she said.
While fans were allowed only one autograph at a time, there was no limit on how many times they could get back in line. Zack Tyman of Northfield got a pair of Sixers shorts, a T-shirt and several photos signed. He planned to use them in a charity auction benefiting the fight against breast cancer later this summer at his family's store, Jamaican Me Crazy in Sea Isle City.
"Evan Turner's a name that people are really drawn to," said Tyman, 21. "He's one of the most respectful, kind-mannered athletes that Philadelphia has had in a while."
Turner wasn't the only attraction. The three-hour event featured games and face-painting outside for children, and inside were guest bartenders such as radio personality Paul Jolovitz and Philadelphia Daily News columnist Bob Cooney.
Sixers public-address announcer Matt Cord emceed the event. The Sixers' dance team performed and mingled with the crowd. There was a silent auction inside to benefit Sixers' charities.
"I'm a sports fan in general, and this is my third year coming to this thing," said Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren, who, like Stefanski, owns a home in Avalon. "It's kind of neat to get to meet some of the players and hang out."
Turner had to go back to Philadelphia after the event to move into his new condominium. He spent Friday night in Atlantic City but said he stayed in his room at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa.
"I was watching 'Remember the Titans' and 'Clueless,' " he said. "I stayed in and ordered some room service."
It was a good thing he got his rest, because Turner signed autographs for about two hours Saturday.
"These people aren't here because I'm here," Stefanski said, laughing. "It's because Evan Turner's here."
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