Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
UCLA has officially signed Berke Buyuktuncel, the school announced Saturday.
The announcement follows the recent signing of 7-foot-3 Spanish big man Aday Mara.
Buyuktuncel (pronounced BER-keh buh-YOOK-tin-shill) has been an impact player on the international scene for his home country of Turkey, playing for Tofas S.K. The 6-foot-9 forward from the city of Bursa, Buyuktuncel helped Turkey secure a third-place finish earlier this summer at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup in Hungary. Turkey outlasted the United States in the third-place contest, 84-70, as Buyuktuncel finished with 19 points, four rebounds, five assists and two steals.
“Our program is very excited to be adding Berke this season,” head coach Mick Cronin said. “He has established himself as a versatile forward with tremendous talent. Not only can he create for his teammates and score, but he has also developed an identity as a defensive stopper. Berke has become a well-known, highly-regarded international prospect. We can see him excelling at UCLA, both in our basketball program and in the classroom. 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. He can do it all on the basketball court. We really like our frontcourt and we’re going to have depth there, with returners Adem Bona and Kenneth Nwuba and incoming freshmen Aday Mara and Devin Williams. Adding an impact player with Berke will be a major asset, and we’re looking forward to having him join us in Westwood.”
Buyuktuncel was one of five standouts named to the “All-Star Five” at the FIBA U19 World Cup earlier this summer. Through seven games in that tournament, he shot 38.3 percent from the field and 34.8 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. He was 26-for-30 at the free throw line, connecting on 86.7 percent of his attempts.
In the summer of 2022, Buyuktuncel helped lead his home country to a second-place finish at the FIBA U18 European Championship in Izmir, Turkey. He was one of five players named to the tournament’s “All-Star Five” at the FIBA U18 European Championship, averaging 12.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.1 steals in seven games. He shot 46.8 percent from the field in that tournament.
Buyuktuncel competed for Turkey’s youth national teams in 2021 at the FIBA U18 European Challengers and at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup. In four contests with Turkey’s U18 team at the European Challengers event, he averaged 16.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game.
Buyuktuncel joins an eight-man incoming class at UCLA this fall. The Bruins’ incoming group already includes six other freshmen and one junior. The Bruins signed Devin Williams from Riverside, Calif., Brandon Williams (no relation) from Queens, N.Y., and Sebastian Mack from Las Vegas during the early signing period in Nov. 2022. Earlier this summer, UCLA added incoming transfer Lazar Stefanovic, a rising junior who was previously at the University of Utah, and freshmen Ilane Fibleuil (from France) and Jan Vide (from Slovenia).
(Release via UCLA)
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.