Wizards

Georgetown's Ömer Yurtseven on interviewing with Wizards

Wizards

As 2020 NBA Draft prospect Ömer Yurtseven met with general manager Tommy Sheppard and Wizards brass on Wednesday in a pre-draft interview conducted by video conference, the Georgetown big man had an opinion to share with them: Bradley Beal should have been All-NBA.

Yurtseven has learned a few things about the interview process after doing about 10 of them so far. One is to do your research so you know about the team and what you can bring to them. In the case of the Wizards, he thought Beal, and by extension, the team deserved more credit for the season they had.

Each team has its own needs and brings its own questions, but Yurtseven has noticed some commonalities to the experience in recent months. That has allowed him to settle in and be more comfortable in the setting, after he said he was nervous in his first interview with the Atlanta Hawks.

"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. His chat with the Wizards was first reported by The Athletic.

 

Yurtseven got the impression the Wizards are looking for a defensive anchor at the big man spot, someone who can protect the rim but also switch onto guards on the perimeter. Those have been major focal points of his while training for the draft over the past six-plus months since the college basketball season ended abruptly due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Everything that comes with the pandemic has made preparing for this draft a challenge compared to other years. Gym access is harder to come by and so are full-court games. There is also much more time for players to train and wait to see where they will be picked or signed.

Yurtseven has made do quite well. He is working out in Elkridge, MD with on-court trainer Ben Bellucci, who runs a skills academy, and weight training with Kevin Maselka. Maselka also trained other Georgetown stars of yesteryear like Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo.

"I've been blessed, to be honest, to have the team I have and the system we've built to improve every day," Yurtseven said.

Yurtseven trains six days a week and three times a day, only taking off Thursdays. He has an intense weightlifting regimen and puts up 6-to-10,000 shots per week. Through it all, Yurtseven says he has dropped his weight from 275 pounds to 260, his body fat from 14 percent to 10 and raised his practice three-point percentage from 40 into the 70s.

That's where making the most of the current situation has played a role. Instead of harping on the difficulties of training during COVID-19, he is embracing the extra opportunity to get better.

"It's been a process, but I've also had all the time I've needed, to be honest, in order to do everything that I wanted and made all the changes I thought I needed," he said.

In his efforts to improve defensively, Yurtseven has honed in on lateral quickness, foot speed and guarding multiple positions. He is scrimmaging with a group of pros including Admiral Schofield of the Wizards, who gives Yurtseven practice switching onto smaller forwards.

Yurtseven is listed at 7-feet and is originally from Istanbul, Turkey. According to Basketball-Reference, he would be just the ninth NBA player originally from the country.

Yurtseven began his college career at NC State and transferred to Georgetown where he averaged 15.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks this past season. He is expected to go in the second round of the 2020 NBA Draft.

Yurtseven has to wait until the draft on Nov. 18 to find out where he will go. For now, he can only do what he's done the past six months; train and stay ready.

"It's a crazy process, but I'm trying to make the most of it. I don't know where I will end up or what will happen, but I'm controlling what I can," he said.