Turkish forward Berke Buyuktuncel commits to UCLA men’s basketball
Coach Mick Cronin looks across the court during a game. Cronin and his staff have been active in international recruiting throughout the summer, with the addition of Turkish forward Berke Buyuktuncel representing the latest addition to UCLA men’s basketball. (Joseph Jimenez/Photo editor)
Aug. 5, 2023 1:00 p.m.
The Bruins have made their fourth international splash of the recruiting period.
UCLA men’s basketball announced the addition of Turkish forward Berke Buyuktuncel on Saturday afternoon. The signing marks the second player to join the Bruins in three days – following the addition of center Aday Mara on Thursday – and is the seventh incoming freshman overall.
“Berke has become a well-known, highly-regarded international prospect,” said coach Mick Cronin in a statement. “With Jaime Jaquez having graduated in the spring, we had been searching for a multi-dimensional player with good size, and Berke fits that description.”
Standing at 6-foot-9, the left-hander played for his local team, Tofas S.K., a club based in his home city of Bursa, Turkey, and also competed for the Turkish national team. Buyuktuncel appeared in 26 games with Tofas, averaging 18 minutes per game while carrying a 58.6% shooting percentage from 2-point range and 30.2% from beyond the arc.
On the international stage, Buyuktuncel averaged 13.3 points and 5.3 rebounds across six games at the FIBA U20 European Championship. Before that, he posted 11.4 points and 8.3 rebounds per game en route to an All-Star Five selection at the FIBA U19 World Cup.
The All-Star Five nomination was the second of the forward’s career, after earning one last summer at the FIBA U18 European Championship where Turkey placed second overall.
Buyuktuncel will join a frontcourt that features Mara, as well as incoming freshman forward Devin Williams, rising sophomore forward/center Adem Bona and rising redshirt fifth-year forward/center Kenneth Nwuba.
The signing of Buyuktuncel likely rounds out UCLA’s class of incoming players which includes seven freshmen and rising junior Lazar Stefanovic, a transfer from Utah. The group is the largest since seven freshmen joined the program in 2018, as well as the largest in Cronin’s tenure, exceeding the six freshmen that joined the Bruins last season.
UCLA’s most recent addition pushes the total of new players to eight, outnumbering the seven returning Bruins and indicating a fresh look for the season ahead.