Another big name landing in Turkey: Alex Tyus back in BCL
KARSIYAKA (Turkey) - Coach Ufuk Sarica enjoyed a fine season that saw Pinar Karsiyka reach the title game in 2021, but he wants to go even further in 2022, judging by the summer transfer watch for the club.
Raymar Morgan, DJ Kennedy and Sek Henry are the most notable absentees from last season, and the domestic role players such as Onuralp Bitim and Metecan Birsen also left Pinar Karsiyaka. But the new names on coach Sarica's drawing board are equally as impressive, if not even better than last time around.
Here's a look at the board:
Tony Taylor, Yunus Sonsirma, Arca Tuluoglu, Amath M'Baye, Mahir Agva and Semih Erden are all back with the team, meaning there is already a fine and stable backbone to the monster that Ufuk Sarica intends on developing in Izmir Province, Turkey.
On November 8, there was a change in the middle. Amid growing rumors that Akil Mitchell will leave the team, Pinar Karsiyaka decided to bring in some reinforcement under the basket. Alex Tyus signed with the club, coming back to Turkey once again in his storied career.
Tyus is a 33-year-old center who spent four years of college in Florida, before starting his professional career in Israel in 2011. Throughout his path, he played for notable clubs like Maccabi Tel Aviv and Galatasaray on two occasions each, Anadolu Efes, UNICS Kazan and Real Madrid. In 2018, he was named Israeli League Final Four MVP, and got a taste of BCL action last season with Galatasaray.
Here is what Ufuk Sarica and his front office were up to so far this season:
On October 1, Pinar Karsiyaka announced the arrival of another big name. Michael Roll signed with the club, allowing the 34-year-old a trip back to Turkey where he had already played in 2010-11 and from 2014 to 2017, before getting his shots up in Maccabi Tel Aviv and Olimpia Milano over the last four years, two in Israel, two in Italy.
Roll is a familiar name around the BCL, the former UCLA Bruin excelled in the first season of the competition back in 2016-17, scoring 12 points per game for Besiktas, with five assists and 43 percent shooting from beyond the arc also to his name. Roll led Besiktas to best record in the Regular Season back then, but they were eliminated in the Round of 16 by none other than Pinar Karsiyaka, Roll's new club.
Michael Roll Pınar Karşıyaka’mızda!!! 💪💚❤️ pic.twitter.com/hQqZ1QXoIP— Pınar Karşıyaka (@KSKBasket) October 1, 2021
Earlier this off-season, Karsiyaka brought in another former member of the Black Eagles.
James Blackmon is ready to continue what he started with Besiktas last season. The 26-year-old shooting guard finished third in the scoring charts in the ING Basketbol Super Ligi, averaging 18.8 points per game, including 10 games with 20 or more for the black and white team.
Blackmon played for Indiana in the NCAA, and his European part of career saw him torture defenses in Italy with Pesaro and Trento from 2018 to 2020. Being a sharp shooter, especially in catch-and-shoot situations, while also being able to create his own shot off the dribble, Blackmon will fit into Sarica's system perfectly.
Same could be written about Bonzie Colson. The MVP of the 2021 season, forward is still just 25, with a lot of basketball ahead of him. In terms of height, you should probably look at his seven-foot wingspan instead of the 6'6''/1.98m that he's listed, and this trip to Karsiyaka is a comeback for him. He already played in Turkey in his rookie year, with Darussafaka Tekfen, then made the move to SIG Strasbourg in 2020.
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Colson averaged 18.2 points and 6.2 rebounds last season, earning the Most Valuable Player of the season award in the Basketball Champions League. With him dominating, Strasbourg made a deep run to the Semi-Finals, eliminating title favorites Lenovo Tenerife in the Quarter-Finals in Nizhny Novgorod last season.
Can Korkmaz also has BCL experience from 2020-21. The point guard was solid off the bench for Turk Telekom, and he will bring stability to the backcourt of Pinar Karsiyaka on the eve of his 29th birthday. Korkmaz is a pro since 2009, and spent four years in three different runs with Galatasaray, picking up one league title back in 2013.
Berkan Durmaz will fill the role of Metecan Birsen from last season. Durmaz is 24, and has spent all six of his professional years with Tofas Bursa, including the last one where he got his first taste of BCL basketball. Standing at 6'9''/2.05m, Berkan can cover the power forward position, and he averaged 8.8 points with 4.8 rebounds in just over 20 minutes per game in his debut BCL campaign, done on 47.2 percent shooting from three-point range.
Burak Can Yildizli is also set for a return to the competition. The 27-year-old 6'8''/2.04m tall power forward-center grew up with Anadolu Efes, then made a name for himself in three seasons with Buyukcekmece Basketbol, earning a transfer to Besiktas. He last played the BCL in 2019-20, helping Besiktas reach the Round of 16 by averaging 8.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.
Yildizli played the last season with Bahcesehir Koleji, scoring 16 or more in four games in the Turkish League, while grabbing six or more rebounds on 14 different occasions, giving him a grand total of 500+ rebounds in his domestic league career.
Finally, the inside belongs to Akil Mitchell. The 29-year-old Panama international is 6'9''/2.06m tall and found home in Israel over the last two seasons. He had 13.0 points and 8.0 rebounds with Gilboa Galil in 2019-20, and got even better last season, with 15.6 points and 8.8 rebounds every night out with Maccabi Rishon.
Mitchell went through Virginia Cavaliers' program, and played for Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Antibes Sharks, New Zealand Breakers, Long Island Nets, Boulazac and Trieste in his professional career.