Kilicli Emerges as a Major Target

With the fall signing period approaching, college coaches are working hard to land the nation's top talent, and Beckley (WV) Mountain State Academy big man Deniz Kilicli is a popular man.

With the fall signing period approaching, college coaches are working hard to land the nation's top talent, and Beckley (WV) Mountain State Academy big man Deniz Kilicli is a popular man.

"To be honest, all the colleges that come in here and evaluate him want to sign Deniz," said Mountiain State Academy head coach Rob Fulford. "He's a very, very good player, and he's getting a lot of attention. I believe that he is one of those kids where if he had been here for the summer tour, he would be a top-five player in the country.

"Physically, he's just a dominating player. He can shoot it from three, he can handle the ball, he has great footwork with great hands. His hands are unbelievable. He's actually left-handed, but he shoots everything outside of the lane with his right hand. He's the total package."

"The one thing he's going to have to work on is obviously adjusting to guarding the quicker forwards," added Fulford. "He'll need to improve his lateral quickness to be able to do that, but he's quicker than most fives and stronger than most fours."

Checking in at 6-foot-9 and 250 pounds, Kilicli projects as a power forward or center on the college level. He arrived in the United States in August from Turkey, but that hasn't prevented coaches from extending offers.

"Everybody that has walked in wants him, but as of now I think UCLA, West Virginia, NC State, Kentucky, and Texas are up there," said coach Fulford. "I would say those five with UCLA, West Virginia, and NC State probably sticking out.

"I know UCLA is in the mix, but they just got the Stover kid so I'm not sure where they stand now. Deniz wants to play. I think he's pretty comfortable thinking he could be a two-and-out kid, so he wants to go to a program where he can play and see the floor early."

West Virginia is a legitimate possibility. Coach Bob Huggins visits as much as he can and 2010 WVU verbal Noah Cottrill is Mountain State's starting point guard. Coach Fulford will take Kilicli, Cottrill, and some of his other players up to West Virginia for their Midnight Madness.

"We're going up to Midnight Madness at West Virginia," said Fulford. "We were also supposed to go to Kentucky's Midnight Madness, but Deniz told West Virginia he would come to theirs first so that's where we are going.

"Coach Huggins is recruiting him very hard. As far as head coaches are concerned, I would say he has shown the most attention, but that is to be expected with them being so close. They are only two and a half hours away so coach Huggins has been in whenever he can... whenever the rules allow."

Heading up Kilicli's recruitment for NC State is assistant coach Pete Strickland.

"Coach Strickland is a great guy," coach Fulford stated. "I've known coach Strickland since I was in high school. I've known him since I was in a five-star camp at Radford and just over the years we've got to know each other.

"He's been recruiting Deniz really hard, and we have a kid here they recruited last year so that relationship is there. Plus, they had a kid from Turkey play for them, and I believe Deniz knows him."

Like West Virginia, NC State has let it be known that Kilicli is a priority.

"The first night they came they had Sidney [Lowe], Larry Harris, and Pete all here to watch him," said coach Fulford. "They all flew in. Pete drove up last week, and I think he's going to be here tonight or tomorrow.

"When it comes to showing a lot of interest, West Virginia and NC State are here once a week when they are allowed, and that's going to stick out to him. Those two are probably on him the hardest. We've tried to help him through the process. We're trying to help him understand how this thing works here."

Kilicli takes the ACT for the first time on the 25th. After that score is posted, he can take official visits. Because he plans on signing in the fall, it could be tough for him to take all five officials before deciding.

"I don't know if he'll visit all five schools because I think time will be an issue," coach Fulford stated. "I believe he wants to get it done early, so I don't know if he can do that. This kid isn't all about the sun and fun. This kid could care less. He needs two rims, a basketball, and a coach, and he's ready to play.

"It's going to come down to the stle of play and the coach. He's on target academically and after his visits I think he'll know what he wants to do because I believe he wanted to get the process out of the way so he can concentrate on basketball."

Kilicli and company will be tested this year as Moutain State faces a loaded schedule. The Falcons are scheduled to play in the MLK Classic in Charlotte, the Bull City Classic in Durham, and tournaments in Georgia and South Carolina.

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