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Colton Iverson Trying to Land a Spot with the Boston Celtics by Playing in Turkey

Colton Iverson (45)
Besiktas J.K.

Yankton native Colton Iverson is on a very roundabout journey to make it to the NBA.  The seven-footer is honing his skills in Turkey these days, playing for Besiktas of the Turkish professional league.

In an article by Baxter Holmes in the Boston Globe, the Celtics second round draft pick says he’s gotten past the first few weeks of adjusting to a completely new lifestyle in a place far, far from the plains of South Dakota:

It’s a little culture shock at first, but it’s been great.

The people have been awesome.

At first, Iverson only ate American food in places like Burger King or McDonald’s.  When he finally did muster enough courage to try some Turkish delicacies, he was sick for a week.

Besiktas J.K.
Besiktas J.K.

Once Iverson hit the floor for his new team in Istanbul, things began to click. He is the starting center, one of four American in the starting lineup (Brad Buckman, Chris Lofton, and Doron Perkins), along with an Australian (Ryan Broekhoff).

He had 27 points in an August win against a French team and was named the ‘top rebounder’ at a September tournament. Iverson says the biggest adjustment to the international game is the officiating:

You have to change your game, change your style of play. You can’t really play the way you play in America, physically, offensively and defensively.

Meanwhile, back in the States, the Celtics are keeping tabs on their 53rd overall pick, since they still own his rights.  Austin Ainge, Boston’s director of player personnel, says:

We’re excited about Colton.

We think he can be an NBA roster player.

We all need big guys on the bench that can guard Dwight Howard and Nikola Pekovic and Andrew Bynum, the big, big strong dudes.

He’s a good kid.

Really for him, it’s just polish.

He’s a big, raw physical kid.

Iverson says he understands why he’s in Turkey and what he needs to work on to realize his dream of playing in the NBA:

I think my role in the NBA will definitely be an X-factor-type player, just defensively, getting stops, making hustle plays, rebounding, and being able to hold my man to low amounts of points.

I think if I can continue to get better on defense, that would be huge for me.

The Turkish basketball season runs through May of 2014.

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