Hidden Gem: Omer Aksu

UTSA Head Coach Brooks Thompson is no stranger to keeping an eye on international talent. In filling out the 2015 class, the 'Runners have signed this European guard, and UTSA may have truly gotten a steal.

InsideRunnerSports broke the news that UTSA has signed Turkish star, Omer Alp Aksu. A 6'3" 170lb point guard who by many publications, is one of the young rising stars of Turkish basketball.

Aksu has already played on the Turkey National 16 and 18 under teams. Many don't hesitate in saying that he's got a realistic shot at landing on the Turkish Olympic team as one of their floor generals.

Over the years, Turkey has produced professionals such as Hedo Turkoglu, Enes Kanter, and Omer Asik. From 2008 to 2011, the University of Texas and former Head Coach Rick Barnes signed Dogus Balbay, a point guard from Turkey who was known as a top notch perimeter defender, good ball handler, high IQ and relentless drive as the floor leader.

So that leads to the obvious question. How did UTSA get in on Omer? To the 'Runners benefit, it wasn't until May that Aksu decided he would like to remain an amateur, come to the U.S. and enroll in college, rather than turning pro overseas. So with most college programs already firmly entrenched with recruiting for 2016, UTSA had a leg up with a couple spots to round out it's 2015 class.

Associated Head Coach Dan O'Dowd first got word of Omer wanting to head to the division one ranks. So as a normal recruit, Aksu was able to take some late visits, and UTSA was one of them. Tamer Turkman, President of StudyAmerica.com, and liaison of the Turkish Basketball Federation, spoke on behalf of Omer on how his visit went and why he chose UTSA.

"He liked UTSA a lot, the school, the city of San Antonio, you guys are getting a great player. He's a very low profile, and even in Turkey he was low profile. The biggest city is Istanbul but he played on club teams in Izmir a port city in Turkey. He was the youngest player in Turkey to play in the leagues, he had special permission form the Turkish basketball federation."

Other programs that were showing interest in Omer, were Loyola (MD), Boston University, Southern Illinois, Loyola (IL), and many others, but being so late in the recruiting cycle, most programs just didn't have the room.

His visit and the Coaching Staff are what sealed the deal for the 'Runners. Turkman stressed those key factors in Aksu's decision.

"He fell in love with San Antonio. He also liked that Head Coach Brooks Thompson was a guard that played in the NBA. A coach that can understand the European game as well and UTSA has had international players as well. I think it's a great fit. You all have a Turkish restaurant there that he liked as well," said Turkman.

The last two months have come as a surprise for many who know Omer. His talent is indisputable, but the surprise of coming to the U.S. does come from off the radar. His game does draw a lot of comparison's to former Longhorn Dogus Balbay, with one major exception, he's a tremendous shooter. Aksu is a 6'3" PG who can shoot lights out, be a solid defender, and tremendously intelligent floor leader.

Aksu is expected to be on campus in mid-August for the start of the fall semester. With most of the 2015 class already on campus, don't expect his late arrival to put him behind the curve. He plays defense, shoots the ball, and doesn't turn it over. That's the ideal Brooks Thompson player. Look for Omer to be a part of the rotation right away.

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