PRO TEAM: Banvit
VITALS: 7'0", 211 lbs.
YEAR DRAFTED: 2012 by Denver (Round 2, Pick 50)
RIGHTS HELD BY: Denver
The lanky Turkish National Team member was plying his trade for Banvit in Turkey when Denver made him the 50th selection in the 2012 Draft, nine spots ahead of #9 in this series Marcus Denmon. The Turkish Basketball League was on my radar coming in since the Knicks were rumored to have interest in Galatasaray's Furkan Aldemir (you'll hear about him soon) with Pick #48. The Knicks would take Kostas Papanikolaou, another name from the list. Nowhere in my research did the name Izzet Turkyilmaz surface. There was probably good reason for that since the center was averaging just 2 points and rebounds a game for upper tier outfit Banvit. He had spent three seasons with second division team Genc Banvitliler with equally underwhelming performance, though he was only in his teens. So what compelled then-Denver GM and future Executive of the Year Masai Ujiri to take Turkyilmaz? Youth and height I'd assume. Or he wanted to see how many midwesterners struggled with Turkyilmaz's surname compared to former Nugget lottery pick Nikoloz Tskitishvili's. I'm done trying to speculate.
Ujiri and the Nuggets weren't the only ones with their eyes on the rail thin Izzet. Following three games and nine total points for the Nuggets' summer league team, he returned to Banvit. Turkyilmaz was not invited to the USA for the 2013 Summer League but again was given an invite that I wouldn't have foreseen. Turkyilmaz was named to the Turkish team for All-Star Weekend and would compete in the Slam Dunk Contest while playing for Banvit. In Turkey, the All-Star Game is split similarly to the old format for the NHL All-Star Game where the top Turks play the top players from the rest of the world. Turkyilmaz scored 16 points in the All-Star Game (his highest output all year) and won the Slam Dunk Contest. After that season, reigning Turkish Cup winners and five time Turkish league champions Fenerbahce Ulker acquired the services of Turkyilmaz. He is one of the last men off the bench but his height though keeps affording him many opportunities in his homeland. He was part of the Turkish squad that won the 2013 Mediterranean Games Gold on his home turf. It was his first international experience on the senior level after several appearances on the U-20 platform. Maybe Masai knows more than us after all.
Thanks for reading the tenth volume of Draft Rights Retained right here on Bleeding Your Colors! I hope you enjoyed it and look forward to bringing you more wacky stories of players who the NBA has long since forgotten, but not their draft rights. Stay locked for a new profile until the list is exhausted. For more of me, check out my Twitter @TREVORutley. For less of me, put yourself in a Sharpshooter until you pass out from the pain.
Image Credits: Izzet holding ball (betterthanvoodoo.files.wordpress.com), Izzet Dunk Contest (sporx.com)