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Better late than never

Tech’s Angela Turner finally called for induction
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
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Courtesy photo

Angela Turner rises above a defender to drain a jumper for Louisiana Tech. Along with three other Hall of Famers, Turner played on one of the greatest teams in women’s basketball history.

Editor’s Note: This is one of a series spotlighting the 2020 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame inductees.

“Miss Hogg, we’re going to win the national championship.”

That was a pretty audacious promise, especially considering it was coming from a player at a rural Class C school and made to a coach recruiting her to a college just four years into having a women’s basketball program and which had yet to sign anyone from more than 100 miles away from Ruston – including this one.

But that player was Angela Turner. And, sure enough, while she was at Louisiana Tech, the Lady Techsters claimed not one but two national titles plus two other Women’s Final Four appearances to boot, establishing a tradition that kept the school among the sport’s elite into the 21st century.

“I don’t know what made me say that other than I believed it was true,” said Turner, the Final Four MVP in 1981 when Tech took the AIAW championship and a Kodak All-America in 1982 when the Techsters became the first NCAA women’s champion, “When I dream, I dream big.

“I didn’t see any reason why it couldn’t be us.”

And now, more than four decades after first made that memorable pledge to Tech coach Sonja Hogg, Turner’s can-do attitude — not to mention her versatile abilities topped by an ahead-of-its-time jump shot — have landed her in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

She’ll be honored in the pandemic-delayed 2020 Induction Celebration June 24-26 in Natchitoches.

Turner’s going in long after her playing days. But she’s fine with that.

“Better late than never,” said Turner, now Angela Turner Johnson, a soon-to-be-61 grandmother (and minus her trademark gold tooth and Afro) who resides with her husband, Troy Johnson, in Carrollton, Texas.

Turner Johnson joins Hogg, then-associate head coach Leon Barmore and teammates Pam Kelly, Kim Mulkey and Janice Lawrence-Braxton in the state’s shrine to its top athletes, located in Natchitoches. That’s just 32 miles from Saline in Bienville Parish and now-closed Shady Grove High School where Turner was both a star player, averaging 30.9 points and 15.1 rebounds as a senior, but also the valedictorian of the 17-member Class of 1978 along with being Miss Shady Grove and student council president.

Turner Johnson’s fellow Hall of Famers from her Lady Techster days are unanimous in saying her inclusion is long overdue.

Kelly (1992): “A.T. should have gone in with the rest of us. She worked her butt off a player and a student, and that included helping me out with math when I couldn’t get it.”

Lawrence-Braxton (2005): “You can always tell good people, and from the time I met her, A.T. was good people. She was a leader on and off the court. Without A.T. you really don’t have the history of Lady Techster basketball.”

Barmore (2000): “Angela Turner could score, defend, steal and rebound. That Godgiven ability was just there. There was just an electricity about her game and you don’t find people that have the class she has.”

Mulkey (1990): “A.T. had a mid-range jump shot back in the day when mostly it was just men who were shooting them. She’d do it with a smile on her face, too. And on top of that, she was and is just a kind and classy person.”

Hogg (2013): “Angela was a joy to coach because she was the kind of player who would run through a brick wall for you. And she was a great student-athlete in every sense of the word.”


In 1982, Turner Johnson was part of the first group of 10 female recipients of an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.

An honor student with a 3.35 GPA, she used the scholarship to earn a master’s degree in business from Tech, eventually becoming a CPA. She worked for companies like Coca-Cola and Motown and lived in Los Angeles and then London for several years before she and her husband settled in Texas in 2006 where she continues working as a CPA.

“Angela used basketball as a means to get a college education,” Hogg said. “You don’t hear much about anyone doing that these days, but back then there weren’t many pro opportunities for women.

“She got tremendous support from her parents. A.T. always had bigger plans than basketball.”

But it was basketball where Turner-Johnson made a lasting impression.

A 5-foot-8 shooting guard, Tuner-Johnson first developed her skills playing against boys in backyards and school playgrounds. Her trademark jump shot came, she once said, because she was tired of the bigger boys blocking her layup attempts.

Basketball wasn’t her only sport, either. In elementary school, football was her prefer ence.

But that door being closed to girls, she gravitated to basketball.

A three-time All-Stater and the Outstanding Player in Class C as a junior and senior, she led Shady Grove to a 46-1 record and the state championship in 1978.

“The coach from Maryland really wanted me to come there,” Turner Johnson said. “But I didn’t want to go anywhere but Louisiana Tech.”

Hogg could see the possibilities for the Lady Techsters.

“A.T. and Pam were the cornerstones of our program,” she said. “With those two, we knew we could accomplish just about anything.”

That they did.

The Lady Techsters went from a regional to national power in 1978- 79, going 34-4 and reaching the AIAW championship game where they lost to Old Dominion.

The following year, Tech was 40-5 but again was foiled by Old Dominion, losing to the Monarchs in the AIAW semifinal.

Along with being successes on the court, the Lady Techsters were a phenomenon off. Crowds packed Memorial Gym and the players were celebrities in Ruston and beyond.

“People just loved us,” Turner Johnson said. “Even now, if I’m in Ruston people come up to me and tell me how they enjoyed watching the Lady Techsters.”