ACC: Omer Yurtseven Makes His NC State Debut Thursday

Oct 26, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried speaks to the media during ACC Operation Basketball at The Ritz-Carlton. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 26, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried speaks to the media during ACC Operation Basketball at The Ritz-Carlton. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports /

NC State was picked to finish in the top half of ACC during the preseason, but it has struggled early. A difficult non-conference season finally brings some good news as center Omer Yurtseven gets ready to make his Wolfpack debut.

NC State has had an interesting start to its season. By interesting I mean difficult and filled with uncertainty. The primary subject of this season has been players that aren’t playing.

Freshman big man Ted Kapita missed the first game of the season as he waited for the NCAA to make a ruling on his eligibility. He then missed three games during their tournament in the Virgin Islands due to a paperwork issue.

In the five games he has played, Kapita has been a difference maker. Kapita has averaged 7.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game while shooting 69.6 percent from field.

He still has some developing to do on both ends of the court, but now that he’s actually on the court that work can begin.

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Maverick Rowan has also seldom seen the floor this season. The sophomore wing has missed seven games while battling concussion issues. He made his return in NC State’s most recent game on Saturday. He finished the game with two points in just 12 minutes of action. Baby steps.

Even with the return of Rowan and Kapita this team is still not whole.

Through all of this uncertainty, the Wolfpack has still managed to start the season with a 7-2 record. A blowout loss to Creighton and a road loss to Illinois being their only blemishes.

Still, these nine games have been a slog.

Close wins against schools like Georgia Southern, Boston University, Loyola Chicago, and Tennessee State have made them look vulnerable. Despite all that, if they make it to ACC play with an 11-2 record they’ll still be in good shape.

The starting backcourt of Dennis Smith, Terry Henderson and Torin Dorn has carried them so far. Each member of the trio is each averaging over 16 points per game and their calming presence gives the Wolfpack some sense of stability.

These are the guys Mark Gottfried can count on when the game is on the line.

The “rescue squad”, as the News and Observer deemed the trio, is about to get some help down low.

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After a nine-game suspension due to NCAA amateurism issues surrounding his time playing for Turkish professional club Fenerbahce, Omer Yurtseven is set to make his college basketball debut Thursday against Appalachian State.

This is welcome news for NC State. Yurtseven is a 7-foot center that is regarded by many as a potential first round pick in next June’s NBA Draft. recently ranked him as the 20th-best prospect in the draft.

Yurtseven isn’t the most physically imposing big man, but he’s described as a skilled scorer and passer.

An elite finisher at the rim, Yurtseven once scored 91 points in Turkish U-18 game. Is that good? That seems good. posted this scouting report after seeing Yurtseven in July.

"He has a unique blend of skills for an 18 year-old 7 footer, who can score with his back to the basket using either hand. He has a go to jump hook in the post that he likes to get to, and he possesses nimble footwork for a player of his size which he showcased in pick and roll situations.Yurtseven is also an excellent rebounder, and although he is not the greatest athlete, he has very solid hands and instincts. He has a really good feel for the game and knows where to position himself off the ball for easy cuts and dump offs. Yurtseven competes on the defensive end of the floor and is a shot blocking presence, but like most of the bigs on this list he will need to fill out his frame and get stronger so he is no overmatched at the next level."

That sounds like just what the doctor ordered for NC State. Another inside scoring presence will take some pressure of Malik-Abdul Abu, and should create some room to work on the perimeter for the aforementioned “rescue squad.”

NC State has faced a zone defense on numerous occasions this season. A gifted passer, expect to Yurtseven to be placed in the middle of those zone looks from now on. Despite his immense offensive potential, his impact on defense may be most valuable.

NC State is ranked 257th in the country in opponents points allowed per game. If Yurtseven truly is a shot blocking presence and an active defender, that number should get better. Especially as NC State’s core gets used to playing with one another.

They have four games until conference play begins to get things sorted out. Of course, that’s easier said than done.

Even if Yurtseven is not a superstar right away the the depth his presence will give NC State is important. Foul trouble has haunted their big man rotation in a few early games this season, including the loss to Creighton, that shouldn’t be a problem anymore.

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For better or for worse, this team is complete now. It’s a brand new season. All the hard-fought games against lesser opponents will be forgotten if Yurtseven helps this team tap into their full potential.