European Star will Contribute Early

It all began with a couple of introductory e-mails from Mark Phelps to Engin Atsur's father, Setin. The N.C. State assistant never really figured he would be getting a signed letter-of-intent months later from the Turkish star.

Atsur is an unknown to nearly everyone in the United States, but that won't be the case for long as the 6-3 ½ combo guard will likely make an impact right away for the Wolfpack.

``He's ultra-skilled and really knows how to play," Phelps said. "He has excellent vision and is a really good passer."

Atsur, who just turned 19 earlier this month, plays point guard for his Pertevnival Istanbul club team and is the starting off-guard on the country's national team. He captains both squads and although it extremely laid-back off the court, he displays tremendous leadership ability on it.

``I play both of them," said Atsur, who lives in Istanbul and attends Saint Benoit. "I think I like point guard a little better, but I really have no preference."

Atsur competed in the eight-game, 12-nation European Basketball Championships for Junior Men in Germany last summer and excelled, averaging 22.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. He will play for the national team in the FIBA Junior World Championship in Malaysia from July 10-20, which means he won't be on campus early this summer.

According to coaches who have seen him play, he is deceptively quick, changes speeds and directions well and extremely versatile. His understanding of the game is similar to that of Wolfpack forward Ilian Evtimov, but Atsur needs to get stronger and quicker to become an impact player in the ACC.

``What he lacks in quickness, he'll make up with in cleverness," Phelps added. "He can score in a variety of ways and has a lot of different release points from his hip, shoulder and over his head. He'll need to adjust to the quickness, but he won't have any problem with it."

Atsur, who is capable of lighting it up from long range or penetrating to the basket, took a trip to the U.S. to visit five colleges – N.C. State, Georgia Tech, Texas, Clemson and Siena. He watched Georgia Tech play Tulane, but came away from the tour with an easy decision.

``That was a clear decision for me," said Atsur, whose favorite players are Dirk Nowitzki and Scottie Pippen. "They were very good people at N.C. State, and it was the best place for my basketball and academic career."

It also didn't hurt that he'd have his older brother, Emre, who is a junior guard at Western Carolina, a handful of hours away.

Atsur, whose favorite band is U2, listened to all the N.C. State games on the Internet this past season and also keeps tabs on the program through surfing the web. He speaks four languages – Turkish, German, English and French.

``I want to have a nice career at N.C. State and hopefully win a championship," he said. "Then maybe I can play in the NBA or in Europe after that. It would be great to play in the NBA, but who knows? We'll have to see because anything can happen. I can't say what'll happen in four years."

Anything can happen – as evident by the way Phelps and the Wolfpack ended up landing this European star.


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