Rebounding, blocking shots, scoring in the post and even shooting 3-pointers are all things Omer Yurtseven is comfortable doing.
But waiting and being patient while the NCAA determines his eligibility has been a little bit trickier for the N.C. State freshman.
The Wolfpack basketball team opens practice on Friday and has five weeks until its first preseason game. Yurtseven, a 7-footer from Turkey, is still waiting to hear from the NCAA about his eligibility status.
“I’m trying to be (patient),” Yurtseven said on Thursday at N.C. State’s media day. “I can’t control it, so I’m trying not to think about it.”
Yurtseven played for a pro club team in Turkey the past three years. Under NCAA rules, he can take some money from the club and retain his amateur status. It’s not uncommon for international players to serve short suspensions, anywhere from three to 10 games, after the NCAA has reviewed their case.
N.C. State had a forward from Belgium, Thomas de Thaey, who had to sit out four games in coach Mark Gottfried’s second season in 2012-13.
Both Yurtseven and freshman forward Ted Kapita, originally from the Congo, are still waiting to be cleared by the NCAA, Gottfried said on Thursday.
The school has been diligent in presenting Yurtseven’s case to the NCAA. Gottfried said there’s no timetable for a decision.
“Hopefully there will be a resolution at some point here in the future,” Gottfried said.
Gottfried knew when he recruited Yurtseven, who committed in May, that there would be a process Yurtseven would have to go through with the NCAA.
“I think there has been a lot of fact-finding, and I think there have been a lot of discussions between the NCAA and N.C. State,” Gottfried said. “I think that’s standard. I think it’s just a process that is ongoing, and hopefully we’ll learn something soon.”
Yurtseven has enjoyed the transition to college life in America. He wants to study computer science at N.C. State.
Yurtseven has tried to keep himself busy while waiting to learn of his NCAA fate.
“It’s out of your hands,” Yurtseven said. “If you think about it more, all it’s going to get you is frustration. I don’t want that.”
And while Yurtseven plays the waiting game, he has impressed his new teammates in practice. Yurtseven scored 91 points in a U18 tournament in May.
He can do a little bit of everything with the ball, N.C. State senior forward BeeJay Anya said.
“He’s extremely skilled,” Anya said. “His touch around the basket and his touch at the 3-point line is superb. Being that tall, that skilled and that young, his potential is through the roof.”
N.C. State is hoping to pair Yurtseven with heralded point guard Dennis Smith Jr. and build the season around them. Smith and Yurtseven are both projected as first-round picks in next year’s NBA draft.
“We know that we need him,” Smith said. “He’s a major piece to what we’re trying to accomplish.”
This is Kapita’s second go-round with the NCAA. He signed with Arkansas last year but was ruled academically ineligible. He spent last year at a prep school in West Virginia.
Without Yurtseven or Kapita, both rated in the top 60 of the recruiting class, N.C. State would still have Anya and junior Abdul-Malik Abu. Freshman Darius Hicks, and potentially Western Carolina transfer Tucker Thompson, could also help in the frontcourt. Gottfried floated the idea of going small, with sophomore Maverick Rowan as a “stretch 4.”
Both Yurtseven and Kapita have participated in offseason workouts and will go through all practices.
Smith said the only thing he can do is counsel patience, and optimism, to his fellow freshmen.
“Good things come to those who are patient,” Smith said. “They’re going to have to wait it out and see what happens. I think it will take care of itself.”
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio