The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Sports

September 21, 2008

‘More skilled than Kevin Love’

Sometimes you can find out exactly what you want to know by being an innocent bystander.

When trying to find out exactly what kind of player Mountain State Academy’s Deniz Kilicli was, a UCLA assistant coach told the tale of the talent from Turkey.

“He is more skilled than Kevin Love,” the Bruins assistant said Friday after MSU’s practice at Van Meter Gymnasium. “They’re different type players, but he is more skilled than Kevin.”

And that spoke volumes.

Love, of course, was an NBA lottery pick after his freshman season at UCLA.

Word apparently travels fast.

Despite being in the states for only three weeks, Kilicli has already received visits from West Virginia and Kentucky, as well as UCLA, Oklahoma, LSU and N.C. State. West Virginia’s Bob Huggins and Kentucky’s Billy Gillespie were at Van Meter Gymnasium in person.

“I am surprised,” Kilicli, a 6-foot-9, 250-pound senior, said. “But I came here because I wanted to improve my basketball and my grades. In Europe, I didn’t see that (kind of attention). I am a good player. But now I will be a better player.”

Which is exactly what MSU Academy coach Rob Fulford is hoping.

“Not that he needs a lot of improving because he is as skilled as any big man I’ve ever seen,” Fulford said of the 17-year-old power forward who turns 18 on Oct. 23. “In the U.S., you get a lot of physical players, which he is. But you don’t see guys as skilled as he is.

“He is physically dominating. He can score with either hand and he is a great rebounder. He can also pull up and hit the three on the break, which is a trademark of European players. He has it all. I think he’ll be in the NBA. I think he’s a two-year college guy, max.”

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