N.C. State got great recruiting news on Monday with the addition of Turkish forward Omer Yurtseven.
Yurtseven, 7-0 and 240 pounds, is a skilled, versatile scorer and is rated as a five-star prospect by Scout.com and projected as a “one-and-done” college player with NBA lottery potential.
The question for N.C. State is: Will Yurtseven be eligible under NCAA rules?
Yurtseven has been playing for the Turkish club team Fenerbahçe for the past three years. Enes Kanter played for the same club before signing with Kentucky for the 2010-11 season.
The NCAA ruled Kanter ineligible for taking more than $33,000 in impermissible benefits from the club. Kanter, a forward with the Oklahoma City Thunder, never played college basketball at Kentucky before leaving for the NBA.
Yurtseven told Scout.com on Monday that he hasn’t taken any money from the club. The club’s coach has publicly said otherwise.
A representative for N.C. State said that the school received Yurtseven’s signed National Letter of Intent on Monday but that it was too early to determine a timetable for how the NCAA will rule on Yurtseven’s eligibility.
Yurtseven, who turns 18 next month, chose N.C. State over Syracuse and Utah. Other national programs had pursued him, Scout.com director of recruiting Evan Daniels said, but some were scared off by the potential eligibility issues.
“There are certainly question marks until he’s cleared by the NCAA,” Daniels said.
Fenerbahçe coach Zeljko Obradovic said in February, according to Eurohoops.net, that the club team has paid Yurtseven for the past three years. Yurtseven has repeatedly denied taking the money.
It’s not unusual for players from European clubs to serve a suspension before playing college basketball. Belgian forward Thomas de Thaey sat out the first four games of his N.C. State career in 2011 while his amateur status was reviewed by the NCAA.
Ukrainian forward Alex Len served a 10-game suspension before starting his career at Maryland in 2012.
N.C. State has previously signed a player from a Turkish club team without any NCAA repercussions. Guard Engin Atsur played for Efes Pilsen before starting a four-year career with the Wolfpack in 2003.
While there are questions off the court about Yurtseven, there aren’t any about his ability. He scored 91 points for Fenerbahçe in a Turkish under-18 league game on Sunday.
“He’s a very skilled and athletic player for his size and will bring great versatility and another dimension in a position of need for us,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said in a statement released by the school on Monday.
Back in October, in Fenerbahçe’s 101-96 exhibition win over the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, Yurtseven had eight points and seven rebounds in 15 minutes.
“He has a great set of hands and can score a variety of ways,” Daniels said. “He can step out and shoot, and he can rebound.”
When you put an elite point guard with an elite post player, you can’t go wrong. If I’m Mark Gottfried, I’m riding those two as far as I can.
Evan Daniels, Scout.com director of recruiting
Daniels said as good as the high school class of 2016 is, N.C. State might have a pair of lottery picks in Yurtseven and five-star point guard Dennis Smith.
“They’re one of the best 1-2 combinations in all of college basketball,” Daniels said. “When you put an elite point guard with an elite post player, you can’t go wrong. If I’m Mark Gottfried, I’m riding those two as far as I can.”
N.C. State needs a lift after a disappointing 16-17 record last season. The Wolfpack has had a turbulent offseason with star guard Cat Barber leaving for the NBA, the Martin twins transferring, forwards Abdul-Malik Abu and BeeJay Anya entering the NBA draft, and replacing two assistant coaches.
The positives have picked up recently for Gottfried’s program. Forward Darius Hicks signed last Friday to give the Wolfpack’s frontcourt some depth.
Yurtseven’s addition potentially offsets the loss of Abu, who led the Wolfpack in rebounding and was second in scoring last season. Abu hasn’t hired an agent and has until May 25 to return to school. Anya also entered the draft without hiring an agent and could return.
Scout ranks the class of Yurtseven, Smith and Hicks as the sixth-best in the country. N.C. State also added Charlotte transfer Torin Dorn, who had to sit out last season.
Gottfried still has at least three, and maybe as many as five, scholarships open for the 2016-17 season.
Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio
Out with the old, in with the new
N.C. State’s starting lineup in the season finale against Duke on March 9 compared to what it could look like for the 2016-17 opener:
PG Cat Barber, jr.
PG Dennis Smith, fr.
G Maverick Rowan, fr.
G Maverick Rowan, so.
G Cody Martin, so.
G Torin Dorn, so.
G Caleb Martin, so.
G Terry Henderson, sr.
F Abdul-Malik Abu, so.
F Omer Yurtseven, fr.