Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Enes Kanter Crap

Photo by Lexington Herald-Leader's Mark Cornelison
Barring a shocking appeal overturn on the grounds of "logic" and "human feeling", Enes Kanter will be permanently ineligible to play any form of NCAA basketball. That sucks. For us and him. Here's why ...

For Us
No matter what you're hearing from fringe reactant stories by certain writers, Enes would be the best player in college basketball this season. He is a workhorse like few you've ever seen at his age, most likely due to his priming in the Turkish junior leagues practically since he hit puberty. He's chiseled out of granite in the form of an NBA All-Star at the age of 18 since he spends countless hours voluntarily weightlifting beyond the normal basketballer's regiment. Juggling the randomness of the NCAA allowing and then not allowing him to practice with the team on a daily basis, Kanter has become best friends with the ball-return machine. I once witnessed knock in 20-foot jumper after 20-foot jumper while yelling across the court at Brandon Knight's assigned rebounder, jokingly insulting him the entire time. He's a complete goofball who has more fun with his mildly broken English than anyone has a right to. It's a shame that he's been mostly kept under wraps from the media by the athletics association due to the ongoing eligibility concerns; by now he would even more of a national celebrity and UK advocate by way of his hilarious irrelevant commentary on all things in life.

And none of this even speaks to how he makes the full-team practices a joke. In case you thought Kanter's 34-point/13-rebound domination in at the Nike Hoop Summit (mostly against Terrence Jones) was a fluke ... it wasn't. Kanter scores at will in every way imaginable, pushing Harrellson, Vargas, and Jones into a constant game where it's a braggable badge of honor whenever someone's able to score on him. Kanter breaks up every alley-oop, pins every driving lay-up on the backboard, and makes attempts at post-up scoring irrelevant. In fact, the only thing Kanter hasn't seemed to master yet is the art of not goaltending. He seems dumbfounded every time he's reminded that you ... um ... can't do that in America.

Here's the bottom line: if Kanter (being a hair in front of Jared Sullinger as the most dominant post presence in college basketball) were available in this Wildcat line-up, we'd be a top-4 team all year and a feared championship contender by April's end. It sucks that we have to now play small ball for 70% of the game now and have to simply try and make it work instead of playing small ball for 10% of the game when Enes takes a breather to go and lift some weights. We would even more-so be the national headline-dominating squad of the year, seamlessly transitioning from the Wall/Cousins era and perfectly priming the public for the unimaginable Gilchrist/Teague/Davis era of next season. But now we're going to have to settle for being a top-15 squad who relies a little too heavily on massive amounts of 3-pointers and prays that the opposition doesn't dump it down in the post too often. We're still in for a highly entertaining year with some great personalities on a team that seems to genuinely enjoy playing with each other, but with Enes in the fold ... it would have been legendary.

For Him
He's a good kid. No matter how slimy you think Coach Cal's recruiting tactics are, no insinuated amount of improper benefits could compare to what Kanter could have made simply by staying home and playing overseas on a real contract for two or three years until he wanted to make NBA money. Instead, Kanter came to America for the hope of playing as an amateur and being part of the amazing college basketball system we have. Instead of being the completely unknown and uncared-about Andrea Bargnani pick, Kanter wanted to be the locally relevant and massively popular Shaquille O'Neal of the 2011 NBA Draft.

Here's the random facts of his case: Kanter never signed a professional contract with Fenerbahce, he played as a barely-used reserve with some professionals for 9 games two years ago, he left that club to play a year of high school prep ball in America in hopes to play basketball in the NCAA, and his parents are rich. He didn't need any extra amount of money, much less $33,033. If he was really looking for a quick cash in, he would've stayed in Europe for millions and not wasted his time playing in an American high school. And this is even furthered by the fact that $20,000 was said to be used on educational expenses and the remaining $13,033 is sitting unused in the bank. The Kanters have offered to pay it all back and anything else the NCAA wants them to. What is the principle under all this? Yes, Kanter was "paid" but Kanter was not bought by some high-reaching sports agent hoping to sway all future 15-year-olds to sign under the table with their agency and sponsored shoe contracts to make millions off children. It's not like that. This crap was an innocent mistake that the Kanters didn't know would jeopardize their son's future basketball plans. It's not about the money. No one can disagree with that at this point.

For the NCAA
So what's it about? Is it about standing by the dry ink printed on a million-page document hoping to keep morals in check at the collegiate level? What morals were shattered by Kanter? Enes is an 18-year-old kid who's made his life and all its happenings completely transparent for the mythical NCAA people to judge him by. His parents received money in excess of what the NCAA deemed necessary and that's why he's not allowed to play. But they are willing to pay it all back because they don't need it and never did need it. Enes wants to play college basketball after doing no more than being an afterthought on a foreign team where he happened to mingle with Turkish professionals for 9 games. What about this seems subversive and ill-intentioned? What is the wrong-doing in this very specific case of Enes Kanter? He's offered to do every single thing the NCAA potentially would ask him to do to achieve eligibility, including willingly being suspended x amount of games with no questions asked. He just wants to be able to spend time practicing and traveling with these other 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds that he's become close with and wants a chance to contribute to and be a part of Kentucky basketball lore.

He's a human being. So I really hope human beings consider his case and make a final ruling with this impending appeal. And that's all I'll have to say about that.

... and Free Enes.

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