PRO TEAM: Efes Pilsen
VITALS: 6'4", 200 lbs.
YEAR DRAFTED: 2005 by Atlanta (Round 2, Pick 59)
RIGHTS HELD BY: LA Clippers
The 2014 FIBA World Cup has been underway for two days in Spain. The competition formerly known as the FIBA World Basketball Championships features 24 of the best teams in the world. Team USA is loaded as always but there are some rising stars getting some shine in this month long showcase. There are even quite a few DRR members in the tournament. I will try over the next month to profile all the Draft Rights Retained players in the World Cup, probably in alphabetical order. Let us start with Turkey's Cenk Akyol.
Akyol was 18 years old when the NBA came calling in 2005. The 6'4" combo guard playing for Elfes Pilsen in Turkey had little professional experience in his country but was regarded as one of the next big things. He was a member of the silver medal winning U-16 European Championship team for Turkey. He also placed second as part of the U-18 teams in both 2004 and 2005. Cenk was even a Turkish club champion with Efes Pilsen in '04-'05 and also made his debut in the Euroleague. All this was enough for Atlanta to use the second to last pick in the 2005 NBA Draft on the guard.
Cenk would come over to the States for Hawks' training camp but would not sign a formal contract with the team. He would instead return to Turkey and continue with Efes. Though his statistics weren't particularly impressive, Akyol continued to represent Turkey at the U-20 European Championships and the 2006 FIBA World Cup. He made the All-Tournament Division A Team at the U-20 Euros. He featured eight times in various capacities for Turkey at the World Cup, where the Turkish national team finished sixth.
He would play a total of five seasons for his home team with a brief spell at Galatasaray Cafe Crown in 2007-08. His first season averaging double digits in points wouldn't come however until he left his native land. Akyol moved to Air Avellino in Italy in 2009. The Italian side had won the Italian Cup in 2008 and acquired Akyol on a one year deal. He would have his best season of his career for Avellino, but would make his time in Italy short, returning to Efes in 2010.
He is still playing for Alandou Efes and the Turkish National Team today but earlier this year fans back in the US got to hear his name again. Almost nine years after Russ Granik announced his name on stage, Cenk Akyol's draft rights were traded to the Los Angeles Clippers for Antawn Jamison on February 20th. Jamison was waived by Atlanta the next day. Akyol's rights are still held by the Clips.
Akyol has averaged 9.5 points per game through two games at the World Cup in Group C. He scored seven points and had two steals off the bench in a win against New Zealand. He got the start against the United States in the second game. He scored twelve points and grabbed four rebounds against the favorites. Turkey led at halftime against the USA but faded in the second half to even their record in Group C at 1-1. Akyol and Turkey's next game will be against Ukraine, the current second place team in Group C, tomorrow. A win then will put Turkey in the driver's seat for qualification for the knockout round at the end of this week. When Turkey is knocked out (yes, when), Cenk won't be too sad going home to his professional volleyball wife, Naz Aydemir. I wonder if there is professional volleyball in Los Angeles if new Clippers owner Steve Ballmer asks for the now 27 year old Akyol's services in the NBA.
Thanks for reading the fifteenth installment 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 and the official Bleeding Your Colors Twitter @B3WHYC3. For less of me, punt your computer into an oncoming eighteen wheeler.
Image Credits: Cenk Akyol (hepimizaileyiz.com), Naz Aydemir (medyafaresi.com)