It seems like forever-ago that Omer Yurtseven played his lone season with the Georgetown Hoyas, but on Wednesday the once-and-forever Hoya will have an opportunity to be Patrick Ewing’s first NBA draft pick.
Omer Yurtseven is an intriguing prospect. Not many prospects can shoot on the move at his size as easily as Yurtseven does pic.twitter.com/1C184ysR78— Mavs Draft (@MavsDraft) November 15, 2020
On its face, it would seem like Yurtseven is entering the NBA at a time when it would has never been more disadvantageous for a 7-footer. Despite the league downsizing, Yurtseven may find a home in the NBA. It’s his versatility as a big man that may get him that chance. The post-up, back-to-the-basket dinosaur of yesteryear is almost extinct. The modern NBA center has to be able to move his feet to help on perimeter defense, and ideally to hold his own on switches. It’s that part of the game where Yurtseven has focused during what will be a gap of eight months between his last game with the Hoyas and the 2020 NBA draft.
Yurtseven told RealGM that he’s met with virtually with 19 teams. “It’s been tough to not be able to work out directly for teams,” said Yurtseven. “I’ve spent a lot of time working on my lateral quickness. I know I needed to be quicker to play in the NBA. I worked on that a lot and can’t wait to show teams.”
He sat out the 2018-19 season voluntarily to play for Georgetown and coach Patrick Ewing. The opportunity to work with the Hall of Famer was too good to pass up. “That’s what I was looking for coming in [working with Ewing]. I needed someone to see the game from my perspective,” Yurtseven said. “I was looking for that feedback and I demanded to be coached. I wanted to learn from him. The thing he stayed on me the most about was the pace of the game and how quick my moves would have to be at the next level.
“The turnaround jumper was one of his major weapons,” Yurtseven continued. “He was ahead of his time, but he wanted to see me do the same thing and give 100 percent effort every time.”
Yurtseven jumper is a major weapon in his arsenal, so a pairing with Ewing was an obvious fit. His numbers remained strong during his junior year season with Georgetown, but with one glaring drop off – three-point percentage. Ewing demanded that Yurtseven operate from the low post, a role that the prospect didn’t love, but accepted. Could a new role be to blame for a down shooting year? Yurtseven would never blame anyone other than himself, especially not Ewing. But it’s clear that he felt like he could have done even more if given the opportunity.
“The biggest thing is, I played how I played because that was the role demanded of me. All I had to do was be the inside presence, the defense collapser, and we had to stick to the strategy that coach thought was best for the team. “I would love to have caught the ball at the top a little more,” Yurtseven continued. “But I was happy to be the post guy. I knew I had to get into my moves quick, so that’s what I did. I sacrificed what I think is my best skills for the team, and I was fine with it.”
Omer Yurtseven (@OmerYurtseven5) came to Georgetown looking to take the next step towards becoming an NBA player.— Hoyas247 (@Hoyas247) October 17, 2020
Now, as he readies for the NBA Draft, Yurtseven spoke with @AidanCurran_ to talk draft prep, and look back on his Georgetown career. https://t.co/5yd5C9Cafh
Yurtseven has reportedly interviewed with a number of teams, including Washington, Charlotte, and Memphis.
“I think first comes being honest and being yourself,” Yurtseven told NBC Sports Washington of the keys to a draft interview. “But other than that, you have to know their rosters in order to see how they would fit in; what shooters are you going to be able to kick out to, or what bigs would you be playing with, what picks do they have. In all the interviews, I try to incorporate all the things I know about them in order to show them that I care, that I want to be on their team.” Yurtseven says he has spoken to about a third of the league over video conference. In addition to the Hawks and Wizards, he has talked with the Spurs, Hornets, Kings, Sixers and Rockets.
In the modern NBA, bigs are asked to stretch the floor by stepping out and knocking down 3-point shots. Yurtseven only attempted 14 shots from long range last season for Georgetown, in part because of unique circumstances.
“What was needed from me was to be an inside presence because we didn’t have any other bigs,” Yurtseven said. “Once we lost four guys out of our rotation in the middle of the year it flustered us, and I had to be the anchor that had to collapse defenses and find outside shooters.”
During his sophomore season at N.C. State, however, the center shot 50% from deep on 44 attempts. “My main focus for the first month has been to get my (shooting) percentages up, especially from the NBA 3-point line,” Yurtseven said. “When I started I was shooting around 40% in April. Every month I’ve seen it slowly increase by 10%. Right now, I’m shooting around 75-to-80%.
“For a big man to do that at my size is a great tool. In today’s league everybody needs a skilled big.”
Top Free Throw % at NBA G League Elite Combine (100 attempts)— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) November 16, 2020
Jordan Ford (99%)
Kouat Noi (98%)
Tres Tinkle (96%)
Samir Doughty (95%)
Anthony Cowan (94%)
Kamar Baldwin (94%)
Anthony Lamb (93%)
Omer Yurtseven (93%)
Trevelin Queen (93%)
Nate Darling/Malik Fitts/Jeff Dowtin (92%) https://t.co/5AwkD2NyVZ
With the draft less than two months away on Nov. 18, Yurtseven truly doesn’t have an inkling on where he’ll land, despite the fact that he’s interviewed with several teams already — the Atlanta Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves, Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies.
“I think my biggest expectation right now is to find the right fit,” Yurtseven said. “A lot of guys in the top five are not able to hold on after their first contract. They’re out after their second or third year. So, I think the biggest thing for me is being able to get in and stay and be your role player, be a starter. Those are the little goals that I have, and I think that I can earn that spot. I think I have the hard work and the will that it takes.”
With a wide range of experience at the professional and collegiate levels, 2020 NBA draft prospect Omer Yurtseven believes his unique path will help him succeed in the NBA: https://t.co/YTCN3CCUgq— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) November 17, 2020
Omer Yurtseven via https://t.co/jCPuPpqQVd— Alex Brown (@AhbAnalytics) October 22, 2020
I’ve maintained the stance that from a tools, feel, and IQ standpoint, Omer has everything you need to be a really solid NBA rotation big. Utilization and context were so key and I still think he’s been misevaluated due to that. pic.twitter.com/0gXL5U55qS
There certainly is plenty of film on Yurtseven from his college and pro highlights.
Great time breaking down film with 7-0 Turkish center Omer Yurtseven, who was incredibly productive this past season at Georgetown. We talked about adapting his game to fit the modern NBA, studying bigs like Jokic/Vucevic/Brook Lopez, learning from Patrick Ewing, and much more. pic.twitter.com/5RP9ojGqXt— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) September 8, 2020
30. Boston Celtics will select Omer Yurtseven. He’s a very skilled 7’0 with great offensive instincts and presence. Boston doesn’t have a true back to the basket force and Omer brings that. He reminds me of a young Steven Adams. pic.twitter.com/wiZzVyzVid— Rashad Phillips (@RP3natural) November 4, 2020
After a tough end of the year facing an ankle injury, Yurtseven is still recognized as a potential NBA Draft pick. The skilled 7-footer is as good a shooter as any big man entering the draft and should be considered a double-double threat every night, even at the highest level.
He is bound to make some pro team better this season and, if he can stay healthy, will continue to grow and develop on both ends.
It seems like longer than a few months ago that we bid our farewells to Omer, and perhaps his departure was overshadowed by other events, but Yurtseven was the best player on the floor for Georgetown during long stretches of this season.
Ewing always demanded a lot out of Yurtseven, including some defensive schemes that may have not helped show off his lateral movement, but for the most part Omer’s smooth post moves and jumpers—along with his almost-automatic 20 points and 12 rebounds a night—were a big bright spot for Hoyas fans.
Here are some highlights and scouting videos (including one that’s an hour):