Omer Yurtseven is a 20-year-old Uzbekistani-born Turkish Muslim who happens to be over seven-feet tall and very skilled at basketball. This semester, he also lives in Washington, DC and attends Georgetown University—and it appears that there are a couple key reasons that brought him to the Hilltop.
We found that out on Friday as the Georgetown Voice published a fine article by Nick Gavio titled: “In His Comfort Zone: Omer Yurtseven Comes To Georgetown For Basketball, Community, And Religious Inclusivity.” Go read it. Now.
When Georgetown alumni and Casual fans first heard about Yurtseven’s transfer they were enthralled with the smooth moves of the big man and excited by his two years of remaining eligibility. Quieting any rumors concerning his NBA-aspirations and reasons for leaving NC State was an interview with the News & Observer:
Omer Yurtseven can explain his decision to leave N.C. State and transfer to Georgetown in two words: Patrick Ewing.
The talented 7-footer from Turkey wants to learn from the former NBA great and current Georgetown coach. He’s even willing to sit out a year, and put his own NBA career on hold, to do it.
“He has been there, he has done that,” Yurtseven said of Ewing, an 11-time NBA all-star and hall-of-fame center. “I’m hoping he can teach me, as a big man.”
Hoya fans loved hearing that—not only is he skilled and eager to be coached, Yurtseven enunciated the perfect recruiting pitch for Big Man U. Immediately the comment section became a quest to determine if the “year in residency” transfer rules would be changing. After the a summer with only a contact rule changing for transfers, fans resigned to seeing Yurtseven in a suit on the bench this season. No one thought there might be a hardship scenario for Yurtseven.
Now, from the Georgetown Voice’s article, it is pretty clear that Yurtseven had a whole lot going on in making his decision and may have been hinting at other ideas that Patrick Ewing and Georgetown would be able to help him: religious inclusivity.
Yurtseven’s decision to relocate to Washington comes during a nationwide rise in Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate crimes. According to Yurtseven, there were “a few events” that caused him to feel uncomfortable in Raleigh. He declined to elaborate with more specific details, but the Raleigh area has recently seen several high-profile acts of Islamophobia, some violent.
The Voice article fills in the gaps and depicts a situation that no college student should have to experience. To be clear, this isn’t politics, it’s a matter of right and wrong. For some older Georgetown supporters the article’s discussion of the treatment of Muslims may conjure images of John Thompson and Patrick Ewing in 1983:
At Providence nearly three weeks ago, a fan under one basket raised a sign that read, “Ewing Can’t Read,” and Coach John Thompson pulled his Georgetown basketball team off the court until the sign was taken down.
Nine days ago at the Palestra in Philadelphia, Villanova fans held up several similar signs. One raised bedsheet read, “Ewing Is An Ape.” A fan wore a T-shirt that read, “Ewing Kant Read Dis.”
And when Patrick Ewing, Georgetown’s 7-foot sophomore center, ran out for pregame introductions, someone in the Palestra crowd threw a banana peel on the court.
So while it certainly appears that Georgetown University a “Jesuit school ... maintain[ing] deep traditions of interreligious dialogue and understanding” is the perfect spot for Omer Yurtseven, one might say that Coach Ewing and his staff might be extremely appropriate teachers, too.
The article relays Coach Ewing’s thoughts on Yurtseven’s state of mind:
Ewing wrote in an email to the Voice ... “I want all my players to feel comfortable and be happy on campus. I am very pleased that Omer is adjusting so well.”
After joining the Hoyas in the spring, Yurtseven began working on his on-court game throughout the summer. He credited Georgetown’s assistant coaches with leading him through a two-month training program designed to expand his all-around skillset. Yurtseven said that he likes that Ewing spends a lot of time in the gym with the team.
“Omer is already a very good player and will be a valuable addition to our team,” Ewing wrote to the Voice. “I want him to add a few more things to his game, but I want him to get the joy back into playing basketball again.”
Yurtseven, who often describes his decision to transfer to Georgetown in terms of feeling more comfortable on the Hilltop, has demonstrated that newfound comfort in his on-court play.
As it should be. By all accounts he has been an good teammate and an enjoyable social media presence.
The weekend is here!!!! ...So what...Go get your reps up #noexcuses #lovethegrind #focus #saturday #begameready #howbaddoyouwantit #skills #O7 #Georgetown #shooter #shootersshoot #nas # @OmerYurtseven5 pic.twitter.com/KJnDyQyV9G— Ben Bellucci (@315BBA) June 16, 2018
Our Casual correspondents have relayed good info on his Kenner performances, e.g.:
Omer is very inconsistent right now, but you can see the potential. He is around 7’ tall, runs well, has good touch around the basket, and explodes off the floor quickly when he can get space to take a step (or even half step) into his jump. If he develops really well, he could be a high impact player next year.
Yurtseven also had to decline an invitation to play on the Turkish National Team.
I am honored to be invited to play on the Turkish National Team and regret missing this incredible opportunity. Unfortunately, the requirements of my F-1 non-immigrant status and my academic responsibilities limit my ability to travel at this time...— Omer Yurtseven (@OmerYurtseven5) August 17, 2018
That’s a shame but he likely won’t be precluded from future participation. As of right now, Yurtseven has a year before his next official basketball game. Both he and the current bigs should benefit from his presence at practice this season. From everything we’re hearing, Yurtseven is going to use that time to work, develop, grow, and hopefully get and stay comfortable.
Thank you Yurtseven. Thank you Georgetown Voice. Thank you Coach Ewing.
It’s always about more than basketball.
Patrick Ewing on why Georgetown has a deflated basketball on display in their office ⬇️— (@Jammer2233) August 30, 2018
“At some point the ball is going to stop bouncing, so you got to have a backup plan.”
2% of high school athletes play D1 sports. 98% of college athletes don’t go pro. Education is ‼️ pic.twitter.com/QJYJkjsjfQ