From the time Orange Lutheran senior Yigit Arcan began playing basketball as a third grader, he had one goal in mind – to play high school and college hoops in America.
Arcan’s hometown of Istanbul, Turkey, is a long way from the states, and he couldn’t see a path to making that dream happen. He remained focused on his basketball training through elementary school and into high school, and he admittedly spent a lot of time praying that something would open up.
God’s plan for Arcan became more clear a couple of years ago when seemingly out of nowhere his father received a job offer in Orange County. After discussing it as a family, they decided to make the move to Irvine.
At about the same time, Arcan’s childhood friend and former basketball teammate, Tibet Gorener (OLu ’20), was preparing to relocate from Florida to Southern California. As the two celebrated their plans to reunite, it was Gorener who invited Arcan to join him at OLu.
His dream of playing high school basketball in the U.S. became a reality when Arcan joined the Lancers last year as a junior transfer.
“I love it,” says Arcan of being at OLu. “I was new. Coach (Daniel Dunbar) was new. It was almost everybody’s first varsity year, so we weren’t that experienced. But we just had fun.”
Arcan had heard stories of American high school basketball teams that included incidents of bullying and fighting. But when he arrived on OLu’s campus, he experienced the exact opposite.
“When I came here, everyone just welcomed me,” says the Lancer shooting guard. “And my team, I’m so thankful (for them). Those guys are my brothers, and I really like every minute I spend with them.”
As part of his relocation, Arcan had to make adjustments both in the classroom and on the court. Although he had been taught English while attending school in Turkey, he lacked fluency. Additionally, Europeans plays a different style of basketball than in America, and that adaptation took the 18-year old some time.
Now into his second season as a varsity Lancer, Arcan feels more comfortable and credits Dunbar and the teachers at OLu for helping him adapt. He’s looking forward to Trinity League play beginning on April 21.
"Yigit is one of the most exciting players we have had on the court in a long time,” says Dunbar. “His energy and passion have a huge impact on the rest of the team and program. We are really fortunate to have Yigit be a one of the senior leaders on and off the floor."
Away from the court, Arcan enjoys fishing, as well as soccer, the first sport he played and a favorite in his home country of Turkey. His next steps include an additional year at a local prep school before hopefully reaching his ultimate goal of playing basketball for a Division 1 college. The support of his family and the sacrifices his father has made to help him achieve his dreams remain close to his heart.
“He started from the bottom, and now he is in such a great place, and he totally deserves it,” says Arcan of his dad. “That just shows me not to give up on anything. He’s a great role model to me and my siblings. He just tries to communicate and be the best dad he can be. I’m really thankful for that. I just look up to him. I love spending every minute with my dad. He’s my biggest role model.”