Scouting Omer Yurtseven at the FIBA European Championship

Photo Credit: YouTube
Photo Credit: YouTube /

Omer Yurtseven was one of five players to be named to the all-tournament team at this year’s FIBA U20 European Championship. More impressively, Yurtseven was one of the most productive players in the whole tournament despite just turning 18-years-old — making him one to two year’s younger than most of the competition.

His inexperience and Turkey’s crowded frontline limited him to only 18.1 minutes a game, but he made the most of his time on the court. On a per-40 basis, he averaged 23.0 points, 12.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.5 steals and 3.1 blocks on a stellar 59.2 percent from the field and a solid 62.5 percent from the free throw line. Next year, the 7-foot Turkish big man will be leaving his club Fenerbahce to play for Mark Gottfried at NC State, and DraftExpress already has him 20th in their 2017 NBA mock draft.

Yurtseven’s game isn’t particularly exciting in any one facet, but he’s a shockingly smart and well-rounded player on both ends. On offense, he doesn’t sky above the rim for lobs or shoot the ball from outside 15 feet, but he’s got an advanced feel for scoring around the rim. In pick-and-roll or drop-off situations he’s got great hands, and is very clever in creating angles to score.

When he catches the ball near the hoop he’s got very soft touch and is comfortable going to quick hook shots.

Yurtseven was at a strength disadvantage against most of the older competition, but still was able to create back to the basket opportunities for himself with quick duck-ins.

Here you see the rare time Yurtseven was actually matched up with someone weaker than him, and he shows off his footwork and well developed left hand. He’s not a super advanced post-player, mostly relying on quick spins and hooks, but his combination of soft touch and quick feet allows him to provide some back-to-the-basket value.

Yurtseven scored the ball super efficiently due to his soft touch around the rim, but he still could get even better at utilizing his size and touch. When he’s in heavy traffic opponents can easily knock him off-balance and prevent him from finishing. As he adds strength, he should develop into an absolutely elite non-dunk finisher.

The other area Yurtseven impacts the game on the offensive end is on the glass. He actually averaged more offensive rebounds per game than defensive over the course of the tournament. Again, his combination of quick feet, soft hands, and instincts allow him to be a threat on the boards. He’s particularly effective following his own misses and quickly putting them back in.

The same combination of mobility and smarts really helps Yurtseven on defense. He averaged 3.1 blocks per 40 not because he skies above the rim to swat shots, but instead due to instinctual timing and knowledge of how to use his size. He still struggles a bit with getting bullied by more developed players, but he’s got a solid frame that looks like it should continue to add strength.

On the perimeter, Yurtseven is a surprisingly capable defender due to his light feet. He’s not super fast laterally and is more comfortable executing a drop scheme, but he’s got the mobility in his hips to contain guys. Here he contains the first pick-and-roll before switching onto the guard at the end of the shot clock and forcing a prayer.

This play of Yurtseven’s pretty much sums up why he’s such a good player despite his mediocre raw tools. On the defensive end, he positions himself perfectly to deter a shot at the rim while still being in position to use his instincts to prevent a pass to his man. As he changes ends he doesn’t have the speed to just rim run past the defense, but watch how he seals his man as he runs to create an opportunity for himself before making a smart pass to his teammate.

Yurtseven’s distribution is one of his biggest strengths. He’s not a flashy passer by any means, but he can make some slick interior passes and generally makes good decisions with the ball in his hands.

All-in-all, nothing about Yurtseven’s game screams lottery pick, but he’s got such great awareness on both ends that he really makes a difference on the court. He’ll need to add strength and continue to get more comfortable playing in traffic, but it is not hard to envision him being a Robin Lopez type player in the NBA.

Next year at N.C. State he’ll be competing for frontcourt minutes with veterans Beejay Anya and Abdul-Malik Abu so he might not get the playing time to be a one-and-done, but he has all the makings of a future NBA draft pick. With Dennis Smith running the show at point, Yurtseven should have a great opportunity to look good in pick-and-roll situations when he does get on the court.

For now, he hasn’t shown me quite enough to deserve lottery status, and DraftExpress’ projection of 20th seems fair. A particularly strong year at N.C. State could easily elevate him into a similar range that Jakob Poeltl went this year, as they are fairly similar players.

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