Brooklyn Heights

SFC’s Celen goes pro in native Turkey

Former Terrier signs with Super League's Petkim Spor

September 24, 2020 John Torenli
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St. Francis College alum and Northeast Conference Third Team honoree Deniz Celen took his formidable game to the professional level last month, inking a contract with Petkim Spor of the Basketball Super League in his native Turkey.

Celen, who starred for two years on Remsen Street for the Terriers, averaging 9.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.1 blocks per game in 64 career contests with SFC, will be joining a Turkish juggernaut, which won the BSL’s first division championship earlier this year.

“I’m really excited to begin this next chapter in my life,” Celen said. “I believe that Petkim can help me improve and become a better player.”

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Celen certainly improved during his time in Brooklyn Heights.

The 6-foot-9, 235-pound forward/center came to SFC after a season at Harcum College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, where he shot over 52 percent from the field and 82 percent from the free-throw line.

A native of Ankara, Turkey, Celen spent his first season with the Terriers adjusting to his new environs before jumping into the starting lineup after only four games coming off the bench.

He averaged 7.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists as an incoming junior but sprouted in a hurry in 2019-20, putting up career-bests of 11.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists while blocking 1.2 shots per contest.

Celen, who scored in double figures 17 times and reached the 20-point mark on five occasions last year, helped the Terriers reach the NEC Tournament, where they lost a one-point thriller to top-seeded Robert Morris in the opening round.

The NEC Co-Player of the Week in late December, Celen joins several notable former Terriers in going pro overseas in recent years, including Tyreek Jewell in 2016 and Gunnar Olafsson in 2018.

“We are very proud of Deniz and congratulate him on signing his first professional contract in Turkey,” said long-time Terriers head coach Glenn Braica. “He arrived on Remsen Street and worked extremely hard to earn a scholarship, and developed into an All-League player upon his final season.”

He also impressed his coach and teammates off the floor.

“Deniz is a person of high character, and we look forward to watching him play on the professional level, where we know he’ll be an asset to his team,” Braica added.

“He has worked really hard to get to this point in his career, and we wish him the best of luck.”

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Over at Brooklyn College, Alex Lang’s season as head women’s basketball coach just keeps getting better and better.

After guiding the Lady Bulldogs to two CUNYAC titles in the past three years, Lang received the honor of being appointed to the NCAA Women’s Basketball Rules Committee last month.

Lang, a six-time CUNYAC Coach of the Year during his 18-year tenure on the Bulldogs’ sideline, is one of only three Division III coaches appointed nationally and he will serve in this capacity for the next four years.

“I look forward to the opportunity to positively influence the game of women’s basketball at all levels, while also representing Brooklyn College, the CUNYAC and Division III,” said Lang.

Lang boasts a career record of 299-183 since taking the BC job when he was only 24 years old. The Bulldogs have won multiple regular-season titles under his watch, culminating in trips to the NCAA Tournament in 2018 and 2020.

“My 20 years of experience coaching women’s college basketball should be an asset in the conversation surrounding possible rule changes,” he added.

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Former LIU Blackbirds pitcher Justin Topa made his MLB debut with Milwaukee earlier this month. Photo: Aaron Gash/AP

Former Long Island University hurler Justin Topa made his Major League debut pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers earlier this month.

The Class of 2013 alum, who was originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates following a standout career with the Blackbirds in Downtown Brooklyn, tossed two innings against Detroit on Sept. 1, the first of four big league outings for the Binghamton, N.Y., native.

“Any ballplayer that plays for an extended period, or even just growing up around the game, wants to get that phone call,” the 29-year-old Topa of his recent promotion.

“It’s a lot of excitement, lot of emotion — especially calling the family and letting them know that after the ups and downs, the dream has come true.”

Topa is 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA over 5 2/3 innings as a pro, striking out five without issuing a walk in his first month with Milwaukee.

He pitched for the Blackbirds from 2010-13, finishing off his career with an impressive senior campaign in which he went 8-6 with a 4.05 ERA and 81 strikeouts.


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