One of the University of Kentucky’s prized 2011 recruits, Turkish center Enes Kanter, is in some trouble after it was revealed by Pete Thamel of the New York Times that the player was paid cash and benefits by a professional team in Turkey.
Through a dialogue with general manager of Fenerbahce Ulker, Nedim Karakas, Thamel was able to uncover the fact that the Turkish big man received more than $100,000 in cash and benefits from the team over a period of three years.
That information, according to Karakas, has already been handed over to the NCAA compliance committee, which has been investigating Kanter’s eligibility.
Kanter, a 6-foot-11, 261 lb center, is expected to be one of the top prospects available in the 2011 NBA Draft (listed at No. 5 in the most recent 2011 mock draft), should he decide to enter.
That decision could be a lot easier if he is not allowed admittance to play for Coach John Calipari and the Wildcats.
Calipari has been behind his freshman center from day one, denying that Kanter received any type of payment while playing in Turkey.
If Kanter is indeed deemed a professional player and thus denied NCAA eligibility, he is not without options, but those options are not as glowing as playing for a head coach, who in the 2010 NBA Draft had five players drafted in the first round and who has also coached the past three draft’s No. 1 draft picks.
No, Kanter’s options probably will not be as glamorous as playing for Coach Cal, which may or may not have a negative impact his draft stock in 2011.
Realistically, if Kentucky is a no-go, the NBA Development League (D-League) and perhaps heading back to into the international basketball scene will be the best options for the young, promising center.
A player with great size, strength and agility, Kanter is a force in the paint and on the boards and he also exhibits the ability to hit the mid-range jump shot.
He will still be a coveted prospect regardless of where he ends up and playing against professionals in the D-League or overseas might actually do more to improve Kanter’s game than the experience he would have received in a collegiate program.
Still, it is hard to ignore Calipari’s success record with high draft picks and it makes one wonder what is in store for the prized Turkish big man.
While there is still a chance that Kanter may indeed be cleared to play by the NCAA, his road to Kentucky got a whole lot harder if recent reports are accurate.
© 2010 Neal J. Leitereg — All Rights Reserved