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QUESTIONS FOR NEXT YEAR: Will Omer Yurtseven stay or go?



When Omer Yurtseven committed to NC State there were a lot of people who predicted he’d spend just one year in Raleigh before making the jump to the NBA. That type of thinking wasn’t all that crazy seeing as he dominated every level the European leagues and seemed to have all the necessary polish to make it in the states.

Things, however, didn’t go that way. In his first year, he got off to a bumpy start with a 7 game suspension. When he returned, he came back to a team that was all about Dennis Smith Jr. There wasn’t much focus on getting him acclimated to the offense and he didn’t get the touches he was hoping for. Part of the problem was that he just wasn’t physically ready to compete at the ACC level. That led to his confidence getting shaken and it snowballed from there. He finished his freshman year averaging 6 points and 4 rebounds in 19 minutes per game.

When Gottfried was fired there was speculation that Yurtseven might just elect to go back to Turkey or transfer to a new program. Neither happened. Instead, he met with Keatts about his role for next season, liked what he heard and decided he’d stay put.

“Some people I talked to advised me (to come back to Turkey), but I wanted to give the new staff a shot. I believe in them.” Yurtseven told Draft Express this past July.

That belief in Keatts paid off. Yurtseven became a focal point of this year’s offense and became one of NC State’s go-to guys on both ends of the court. He finished third on the team in scoring at 13.5 ppg and reeled in almost 7 rebounds per game (a team high).

So what is next for Omer?

Many thought it was a foregone conclusion that Yurtseven would elect to go pro regardless after this season, but that might not be the case.

As of right now, he is projected to 28th overall in the NBA draft. That is a late first round pick and obviously, there is no guarantee he lands there. If he does, he’s looking at about $2.5 to $3 million guaranteed. Not too shabby. But that is if you land in the first round. Yurtseven is right on the cusp. If he were to fall into the second round, that’s where things get dicey. All of the sudden you might not get any guaranteed money and you are more likely to wind up signing a 2-way contract and heading down the G-League. This is something that Yurtseven, himself, has said he is not very interested in.

“I’ve heard about (the 2-way contracts and the G-League option) but I didn’t like the idea of it. I thought if I could go back to school and keep doing what I’m doing, it will be better for me.” he told Draft Express in that same interview in July.

For some players, taking this route might be their best option. Sometimes even being projected late in the first round is an accomplishment. Sometimes players have reached their ceilings and have nowhere to go but down. But that’s not Yurtseven. In fact, for him, it’s the exact opposite.

Omer will certainly test the waters and he is sure to hear some positive things. He is also sure to hear teams concerned about his physicality and ability to guard stronger post players. If you look at the NBA, you’re starting to see the PF spot become more of an athletic hybrid position. Guys like Kristaps Porzingis, Draymond Green, Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis are leading the way. These are the guys you’d be going against every night. Is Yurtseven ready to go toe to toe with these guys? Probably not. With that in mind, you’d want to start projecting him as a center at the next level.

If you want to find an NBA star with Yurtseven’s skill set, take a look at Nikola Jokic. He is averaging 17 points and 10 boards for the Nuggets and has a very similar approach. Both have good hands, good feet. Both can finish with both hands and both can pop out and shoot it at a high percentage. Jokic is setting himself up for a long career in the league and a massive payout when his contract comes up.

So if an NBA team could scoop up the next Nikol Jokic, you’d think they’d be all over it. So why isn’t Yurtseven being projected higher? Why isn’t he one of the first bigs off the board? To answer that, let’s take a look at last year’s feedback from

For all of the talk of Yurtseven’s ability to score the basketball, he lacks any true post moves and the ability to provide much as it pertains to post scoring, at least he did at NC State this season … He’s more of a finesse player as opposed to a guy who is going to bang down low … He is easily moved off of his spots by most defenders and he doesn’t really get good position down low during post ups … He tends to shy away from most contact on both sides of the ball and was routinely taken advantage of on the defensive glass … After sitting out the first nine games of NC State’s season, Yurtseven looked lost a times on the floor and aside from one or two games, never seemed to get any rhythm going … Athleticism could be a concern for him as well as the next level as he doesn’t grade out with the athleticism of some of his peers (John Collins, Bam Adebayo, Ivan Rabb, Harry Giles, etc) … He struggled at the combine with his lane agility and overall vertical (

And here is what Draft Express said he needed to work on last year…

Jokic and every other big in the NBA has a physicality about them. Even the finesse guys can get physical when the matchup calls for it. As of now, scouts haven’t seen that side of Omer.

Don’t get it wrong, He made some huge strides this season. He showcased his versatility, he showed that he can score and rebound the basketball at a high level. But it seems as though that was never in question. For Omer to become a lottery pick he needs to address physicality and strength.

While he progressed a ton this season and proved he was a future pro, he did not address those concerns. Against some of the most physical opponents, Yurtseven struggled.

  • A combined 14 points in 2 meetings vs 6’10 250lb Martinas Geben of Notre Dame
  • 6 points and 6 boards vs. the physical 6’10, 250lb Jack Salt of UVA
  • 6 points, 6 boards vs the insanely tall 7’2 Paschal Chukwu of Syracuse
  • 2 points, 2 boards in 14 minutes vs. 6’10, 245lb monster Angel Delgado of Seton Hall.

Now, realize, we’re not mentioning the numerous games Omer lit people up for 20 points or pulled down 12 boards. He did that, but he failed to do it against the type of bigs he’d be seeing in the NBA and that is what worries scouts.

The good news is, strength is something that can be changed in a single off-season. As for mentality, that would take some work, but NC State has the right staff in place to make that adjustment as well.

The point we’re making is that no one will blame Omer Yurtseven for making the jump to the pros. He’s a skilled 7 footer who just finished 3rd team All-ACC. It would also, however, be (in our opinion) selling short his ceiling.

It’s rare to find a 7 footer with this frame, this skilled. Omer Yurtseven can and should be a lottery pick. He is too good to not leave the NBA draft with a $8-10 million guaranteed contract. He’s too good to be a 2-way player that doesn’t get the time to prove himself or build himself at the NBA level.

All it would take is giving up one off-season. Selling out to the weight room. To a perfect diet. To building muscle and a mentality to punish in the paint. If he is willing to put in that work, then one more year in Raleigh and in the ACC would put his life on a completely different trajectory.

Coming into next season Yurtseven would be the ACC’s headline big man. He would be NC State’s headline player and likely be a preseason 1st team All-ACC selection. He will have the spotlight and the attention of NBA scouts. The only thing left to do would be perform.

I guess it ends up on what Omer Yurteseven really believes about Omer Yurtseven. Does he think he’s done enough at this level? Or does he want to answer his critics and let his play push him up the draft boards?

I think therein lies the answer to the question of whether or not he is back with the Pack next season.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Afterglow

    March 19, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    I do not believe he can “test” the waters, as has already done that. If he commits to the draft, it’s a done deal. I would sure love for him to stay, though.

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  1. Duke
  2. Louisville
  3. UNC
  4. UVA
  5. NC State
  6. FSU
  7. Notre Dame
  8. Miami
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  10. Georgia Tech
  11. Clemson
  12. Boston College
  13. Wake Forest
  14. Pittsburgh
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Pick up your own copy of Athlon’s 2019 College Basketball Preview at your local store.


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