‘Turkish Delight’ Dogus Balbay Named Defensive Player of the Year

Around The Alcalde, we consider him a true Turkish Delight, and for good reason. Men’s basketball powerhouse Dogus Balbay has just been named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.

Balbay was one of five Longhorns to be awarded spots on the league’s honors teams this year. Tristan Thompson was named Freshman of the Year, and Jordan Hamilton, Gary Johnson, and Cory Joseph also earned spots.

A senior, Balbay is an on-court standout and an NBA prospect. He becomes the second player in UT men’s basketball history to be named Defensive Player of the Year, joining 2006 winner LaMarcus Aldridge.

It is not only his skill level, but also his personal story, that endears Balbay to us (and his coaches and teammates).

Born in Turkey, Balbay spoke no English until coming to the United States late in high school.

Think about it: less than five years ago, he couldn’t even introduce himself. Now he maintains a 3.2 GPA at a world-class American university and is on the verge of earning a college degree.

He’s faced down injuries and felt the challenges of being Turkish in Texas, where it can be tough to get to a mosque and, as an athlete, hard to keep up with strict fasting during the month of Ramadan.

But despite living 6,000 miles away from his family, Balbay keeps his chin up. He’s known as one of the hardest workers — and funniest guys — on the UT men’s basketball team.

“We cherish Dogus, honestly,” his teammate and suitemate, Gary Johnson, says. “If anything were to happen to him, I think our season would go down the drain.”

The team has been named a No. 2 seed in this coming weekend’s Big 12 Championship. They’ll take on the winner of Baylor vs. Oklahoma in a quarterfinal game Thursday, March 10.

Read the rest of Balbay’s compelling story from the March|April Alcalde here.

Photo courtesy of UT Athletics


No comments

Be the first one to leave a comment.

Post a Comment