NC State

Turkish NC State basketball recruit, family safe after coup attempt

Omer Yurtseven in action during the adidas Eurocamp at La Ghirada sports center on June 7, 2015 in Treviso, Italy. (Photo by Roberto Serra/Iguana Press/Getty Images)
Omer Yurtseven in action during the adidas Eurocamp at La Ghirada sports center on June 7, 2015 in Treviso, Italy. (Photo by Roberto Serra/Iguana Press/Getty Images) Getty Images

Omer Yurtseven is safe and so is his family after a military coup attempt in Turkey on Friday saw at least 265 people killed.

Yurtseven, an N.C. State basketball recruit, was in Helsinki, Finland, with the Turkish national team competing in the FIBA U20 European Championship during the violence in Istanbul and Ankara.

His family was out of harm’s way in Istanbul, according to N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried, who was in Helsinki to watch Yurtseven, a 7-foot, 240-pound forward who is considered one of the best young international prospects.

“His family is fine and he’s doing fine,” Gottfried wrote in a text message from Finland on Sunday.

Yurtseven had 14 points, five rebounds, three steals, two blocks and two assists in 19 minutes in a 67-63 win over Germany on Sunday.

He had six points and four assists in 16 minutes in a 90-68 rout of Lithuania on Saturday. Gottfried attended both games on a trip he had scheduled after Yurtseven committed to N.C. State in May.

Gottfried’s trip to Finland to watch Yurtseven underscores the freshman’s importance to the Wolfpack next season. Both Yurtseven and freshman point guard Dennis Smith are projected as “one-and-done” NBA prospects by DraftExpress.

A versatile, skilled scorer, Yurtseven posted 91 points for Fenerbahce in a Turkish U18 league game in May.

“I just wanted to support Omer and visit with him,” Gottfried wrote. “It was good to see him play against older players and it was good to talk to him about his game and things he does well and also the things he can begin to work on.”

Yurtseven is scheduled to arrive at N.C. State on Aug. 15, about a week after another FIBA tournament, the U18 European Championship.

That tournament is scheduled to be played in Samsun, Turkey. FIBA might change the venue after the bloodshed in Turkey last week. The Turkish government has stabilized after nearly 3,000 military plotters were rounded up on Saturday.

Gottfried did not have an update Yurtseven’s eligibility status with the NCAA. Yurtseven, 18, has played the past three years for the Turkish club team Fenerbahce.

It’s not unusual for players from European clubs to serve an NCAA suspension, for accepting money from their clubs, before playing college basketball.

Yurtseven has maintained he hasn’t taken any money from the club. Unlike former Fenerbahce prospect Enes Kanter, who was ruled ineligible by the NCAA in 2010, Yurtseven has said he has worked to protect his amateur status and it has been his plan to play college basketball.

N.C. State has previously signed a player from a Turkish club team without any NCAA issues. Guard Engin Atsur played for Efes Pilsen before starting a four-year career with the Wolfpack in 2003.

Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio

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