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NC State's Omer Yurtseven considering going pro or transferring

N.C. State head coach Kevin Keatts talks with Omer Yurtseven during a timeout in the Wolfpack's 91-87 loss to Boston College in the ACC tournament on March 7.
N.C. State head coach Kevin Keatts talks with Omer Yurtseven during a timeout in the Wolfpack's 91-87 loss to Boston College in the ACC tournament on March 7. ehyman@newsobserver.com

After meeting with N.C. State men's basketball coach Kevin Keatts on Tuesday, Omer Yurtseven will consider continuing his career elsewhere — either in professional basketball or at another university.

N.C. State released a statement from Keatts on Wednesday morning saying the school will grant the 7-0, 245-pound sophomore center a release from his scholarship.

“Omer and I had an opportunity to visit and he expressed his intentions to either pursue a professional career or consider transferring from NC State," Keatts said. "We will certainly grant his release. Omer made incredible strides this year, increasing his scoring in ACC play from 4.9 points per game to 14.9, improving his rebounding and hitting 46 percent from three-point range while developing into an All-ACC player. We wish him continued progress and success in his future.”

NC State basketball coach Kevin Keatts tells reporters that he is seeing growth in Omer Yurtseven's confidence in every practice and game.

Yurtseven, who will turn 20 on June 18, went through the NBA draft process, without hiring an agent, a year ago after his freshman season. He attended the NBA Draft Combine, where the feedback he received pegged him as going anywhere from late in the first round to early in the second round. But he returned to N.C. State

Keatts, having been named N.C. State's coach replacing the fired Mark Gottfried in March, convinced Yurtseven that his free-flowing style would fit the athletic big man's skill set that includes perimeter shooting as well as strong paint play.

N.C. State improved from a team that suffered back-to-back losing seasons prior to Keatts' arrival to a 21-win NCAA tournament team this season. Yurtseven’s play improved dramatically from his freshman to sophomore seasons as well.

After averaging 5.9 points and 4.1 rebounds in 2016-17, Yurtseven averaged 13.5 points and 6.7 rebounds with the Wolfpack this season.

Prior to the NCAA tournament, Yurtseven praised Keatts' coaching while offering a glimpse into his own thoughts about the future.

“I’d say he’s an honest man,” Yurtseven said earlier this month. “He was honest with me from the beginning. I just don’t want this to be our last game together.”

VIDEO: NC State's Omer Yurtseven talks about the difference between last season and this season after the Wolfpack's victory over Louisville at PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC Saturday, March 3, 2018.

The Wolfpack's March 15 NCAA Round of 64 tournament game with Seton Hall, a 94-83 Midwest Region first-round loss at Wichita, Kansas, appears to be Yurtseven's last game with N.C. State. Yurtseven fouled out, scoring just two points and grabbing two rebounds against Seton Hall's 6-10 senior center Angel Delgado.

Yurtseven's departure would leave the Wolfpack with no experienced big men on next season's roster. Reserve forwards Lennard Freeman and Abdul-Malik Abu were both seniors this season.

N.C. State has three big men among its incoming recruits, including 6-10 junior college transfer Derek Funderburk. A former Ohio State player, Funderburk will have three years of eligibility at N.C. State after playing at Northwest Florida State Junior College.

The incoming freshmen big men include 6-9 power forwards Ian Steere and Immanuel Bates.

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