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Appreciating Omer Yurtseven’s Growth

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NCAA Basketball: North Carolina State at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Remember the day when Omer Yurtseven committed to NC State? I ran through my house out of excitement. Landing a highly coveted seven-footer with shooting skills seemed like a “too good to be true” development for the Wolfpack.

That excitement changed during his freshman season. Maybe my expectations were too high, but given the international hype surrounding Yurtseven, I anticipated an immediate impact player. He ended up posting 5.9 points and 4.4 rebounds per game as State’s season rolled down the hill.

Yurtseven never appeared comfortable in Mark Gottfried’s system and my excitement behind his arrival turned to something of a disappointment. Then word began circulating that even after his low production freshman season, Yurtseven might turn pro.

To Yurt, thanks for coming back.

That excitement about his arrival has returned. The hype was always real. Yurtseven just needed our patience and reasonable time to grow. State has a seven-footer with a gifted touch and excellent feel around the basket. For crying out loud, Yurtseven is shooting 52.4 percent on threes this season (GASP). He’s only attempted 1.4 per game, but nevertheless, that’s an outstanding number.

Beyond his long-range ability, Yurtseven’s game has grown in every aspect. 58 percent shooting from the floor, 13.6 points per game, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks. How much credit does Kevin Keatts deserve, both for convincing Yurtseven to come back and utilizing him in a manner that has allowed him to flourish? Probably a ton of credit, to put it simply.

But let’s all take a moment to appreciate two aspects of Yurtseven’s college career - his leap of faith to leave his home country to join the Wolfpack, and his decision to return for his sophomore year under a new coach following a disappointing season.

He could’ve easily left. No one would've blamed him for darting after a season that by all accounts didn’t work out. In a college basketball climate of players regularly leaving a program the second things go south, Yurtseven did the opposite.

As the Wolfpack prepare for a March run, this decision stands as one of the most important of the season. Give them Hell, Yurt. And whatever you decide to do once this run ends, we thank you for joining the Wolfpack.