In Tuesday’s piece on Arizona freshman Lauri Markkanen, I briefly mentioned that there were a slew of other European prospects that used the FIBA U20 European tournament to try to stake their claim to NBA or international teams. One of the other significant prospects that competed in that tournament was Turkish big Omer Yurtseven, who averaged 10.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game on 59% shooting in 18 minutes per game.
That kind of production has seemed commonplace for Yurtseven over the last few years, playing inside the Fenerbahce Ulker organization. Despite being born in ‘98, Ulker started his pro career in 2013-14, playing with Feneberbace Ulker’s junior team. He played with that squad until the following season, where he moved up to the main squad.
Despite not having a lot of playing time with Fenerbahce Ulker, averaging around 6 minutes per game during those two seasons, it allowed him to gain the amount of experience that most incoming freshmen don’t get it. While most of those incoming freshmen have only previously played against high school opponents, Yurtseven practiced against NBA alums Ekpe Udoh and Jan Vesley, who were also on Fenerbahce Ulker.
Yurtseven playing against elite European players and NBA alums was definitely apparent when you watched him play in last week’s FIBA U20 European Tournament.
Over the course of that tournament, Yurtseven seemed to be in total control on both sides of the ball. Offensively, Yurtseven continued to set fantastic screens, and looked very confident rolling towards the basket. On the other end, he did a great job of knowing whether to remain on his man or work as a help defender.
On the offensive end, Yurtseven didn’t show anything too impressive during the tournament. Yurtseven’s main duty was to work as a pick-and-roll big that would set tight screens and drive towards the rim. He did a fantastic job at that as Yurtseven showed impressive mobility as an off-ball cutter. That created a plethora of open looks for him around the rim, where he scored at a pretty consistent basis.
In those off-ball cuts, Yurtseven showed a combination of mobility with soft hands which allowed him to receive the passes. Following that, Yurtseven either finished with a slam or showed off a nice touch.
That soft touch was also prevalent from his work as a post-up player. While he rarely showed this ability during the tournament, Yurtseven exhibited some flashes. Primarily on the left block, Yurtseven has a soft touch on little left-handed hook shots from around 5-7 feet from the basket. Yurtseven still has a long ways to go before he becomes a solid post-up threat, but he does have some of those fundamentals in place to build upon for the future.
Currently, Yurtseven’s main strength comes as an offensive rebounder. During the FIBA U20 European tournament, Yurtseven averaged 3.1 offensive rebounds in 18 minutes per game. To put that in perspective, Yurtseven would’ve averaged 6.8 offensive boards per 40 minutes, which is a representation of how he dominated on the offensive boards during that tournament. That dominance occurred due to the 225 pound Yurtseven working hard on box-outs and having a sense on where the ball will end up. Both of those skills are seen in the play below, as Yurtseven collects the offensive rebound and puts in the easy bucket.
Defensively, Yurtseven looks pretty fundamentally sound, especially as a pick-and-roll defender. In those areas, Yurtseven shows a pretty solid ability to stick with the cutting guard from the perimeter to the paint. Alongside that, Yurtseven looks relatively comfortable defending guards alongside the perimeter.
As he enters his freshman season at NC State, there are some definite rumblings that he’ll be a one-and-done player. Although his size, strength and relative youth is on his side, it might be best if he’s a multi-year player for the Wolfpack. Just turning 18 in June, Yurtseven is still incredible young and has a lot of time to grow as a player. That time is needed as he’ll need to work on a solid mid-range or perimeter jumper to put alongside his solid cutting ability. Alongside that, Yurtseven can definitely become a more reliable defensive player, as there are definitely some moments where he looks tentative on that end of the court.
Despite those clear flaws, Yurtseven should be an extremely fun player to watch during his freshman season. Playing alongside potential lottery pick Dennis Smith, Yurtseven should have plenty of opportunities to show ACC opponents the same skills that he showcased at the FIBA U20 European tournament. And if that comes true, Wolfpack fans should be in for a great time during the upcoming season.