SALT LAKE CITY – Midway through a two-week visit with the 76ers, Furkan Korkmaz said his lifelong professional dream was to one day become an NBA player.
The mission has now taken a pivotal step forward.
Less than a month after the 19-year old Turk’s two-week visit to the Delaware Valley, pen was put to paper to formally make Korkmaz a member of the organization that chose him 26th overall in the 2016 draft. He signed his rookie contract Tuesday afternoon in Salt Lake City, where the Sixers are headquartered for this week’s Utah Jazz Summer League.
In Korkmaz, the Sixers will be adding a lanky, 6-foot-7, 180-pound wing prospect who can both shoot and handle the basketball. This past season, he enjoyed his strongest professional campaign to-date, while playing in the Turkish Basketball Super League. His year experienced a crucial turn in late December, when he was loaned by Anadolu Efes (Dario Saric’s old club) to Banvit Basket.
With Banvit, Korkamz averaged career highs of 10.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in roughly 23.5 minutes per game. He hit 50 3-pointers, and shot 42.7 percent from the outside, too.
Over the course of the year, Korkmaz maintained comparable statistical marks during competition in the inaugural Basketball Champions League round robin, earning the tournament’s ‘Best Young Player’ award.
“[Banvit] gave me this confidence, and I got the [award],” Korkmaz said in June. “It is very good feeling, but I think most important thing is what you do as a team. If team is playing well, of course you play good, so I think that is the key.”
Coming to terms with Korkmaz represents the latest auspicious off-season development for the Sixers, which selected Markelle Fultz No. 1 in the draft on June 22nd. Korkmaz will now have the chance to carve out his own role in a promising youthful nucleus that, in addition to Fultz, already features the likes of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Saric, and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot.
“We are happy to have Furkan Korkmaz join us in Philadelphia this year where we feel he will be best positioned to develop physically and acclimate to the NBA game,” Bryan Colangelo said Tuesday in a statement released by the Sixers. “Furkan is another talented young player that we are excited to have in our program.”
The development factor that Colangelo cited in the quote above seemed to be at the forefront of Korkmaz’s mind during the time he spent at the Sixers’ training complex in June. He seemed to enjoy his introduction to the franchise, meeting and participating in activities with players, coaches, and front office staff. The trip, Korkmaz said, was “really fun.”
“When I [visit] here, I just trying to fix my weakness. I think I can be in development better here because in Europe, game [are] scheduled [so] you don’t have so many times to spend with your individual abilities, so I think here is more professional for that.”
With Korkmaz officially a Sixer, this type of environment is no longer half a world away.