Thursday, June 14, 2007

Player Profiles: #12 Can Civi

Back when he was still finishing his secondary schooling in Istanbul, Turkey, Can Civi took several weeks of his summer to travel to the United States to play basketball. He was the starting point guard for his club team, Efes Pilsen, and he attended Uskudar American Academy. Civi had been honored with placement on the Turkish National Team and had led his junior team to a national title. But during that summer, Civi had only goal in mind: to play college basketball in America.

One of Civi's first stops came at Bob McKillop's Davidson basketball camp in June. Like most college coaches around the country, McKillop uses his basketball camp as a chance to teach youngsters about basketball, but also as an opportunity to look at high school players that are often off the mainstream radar.

When Civi arrived at camp in Davidson, he did not make that much of an impact. His dribbling skills and passing accuracy were not comparable to most of the other point guards his age at camp and McKillop did not place him very high on his recruiting priorities.

Civi knew that his play at Davidson's camp was not his best performance, and he was determined to play better at the several camps that he had lined up in the northeast. After another week of sub-par performances at a camp in Pennsylvania, Civi felt even more down on his luck. Hoping to capitalize on one more camp opportunity, he was scheduled to fly over to Philadelphia where he would be picked up by a coach from a camp in New Jersey. When Civi arrived at Philadelphia International, there was no one there. He waited. And waited. No one came.

What Civi didn't know was that the head coach of the previous camp had called his colleague in New Jersey to tell him that Civi was not worth looking at: Not only were his basketball skills sub-par, he was a dirty Turk on top of that. With the wave of xenophobia sweeping the nation in the wake of September 11 and the American invasion of Iraq, Can Civi was seen as just a foreign Muslim who wasn't worth a drive to the airport.

By the middle of the next week, word had reached Bob McKillop that Can Civi was having a hard time in the northeast and had been wrongly treated by several coaches who could not see past his ethnicity. After being left at the airport, the point guard had somehow hitch-hiked his way through a foreign country with relatively little language proficiency and had arrived at camp. Armed with a personal drive to defend his own honor and find a team in America, Civi played with the heart of a lion that week and was easily the most valuable point guard in camp. McKillop happened to make it up for one of the last days of camp and he was impressed by what he saw.

"I saw a young man who battled against every odd: language, racism, homesickness. He took those things head on and conquered them. He had a heart that I wanted on my team."

It didn't take long for Bob McKillop to sign Civi to the fourth scholarship slot in Davidson's class of 2009.

In his two years at Davidson, life has not always been easy for Civi. Faced with limited playing time and an entrenched spot on the scout practice team, he has certainly had to face doubts as to whether he made the right decision in coming here. It doesn't take long, however, for those doubts to subside when he's around his teammates.

Civi's love of humor and sincere personality have made him a hit on campus and in the locker room. Several players have vowed to travel with him back to Istanbul to experience his culture and his home.

Civi might never think of himself as some big success story of strength, heart and goodwill overcoming the forces of hate and stereotype, and that coincides perfectly with his nature. But the story of Can Civi is one that deserves to be told. It represents a small nugget of beauty and yet another meaningful connection between a foreign culture and little ol' Davidson.

1 comment:

Ryan said...

nice article dude, hopefully he will get some run this year