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Thursday / February 22.
  • The Curious Case of Enes Kanter

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    The curious case of Enes Kanter gets more curious every day.

    Kanter, a 6-foot-10 Turkish citizen born in Zurich, Switzerland, is now at his third American school in the span of two months.

    Kanter has surfaced at Simi Valley (Calif.) Stoneridge Prep after brief stops at Findlay (Nev.) Prep and Beckley (West Va.) Mountain State.

    “He legitimately wants to be here and go to college and Stoneridge is the only option,” said an industry source with knowledge of Kanter’s situation. “He would like to get eligibility by passing the [standardized] test. He might not even play at Stoneridge.

    “He could enroll in college in the spring semester.”

    Kanter, 17, was named Most Valuable Player of the 2009 U18 European Championship in Metz, France.

    He averaged 18.6 points and a tournament-best 16.4 rebounds in leading his team to a bronze medal.

    Kanter went for 32 points and 25 rebounds in a semifinal loss to Serbia before bouncing back and going for 35 points and 19 rebounds in a 95-74 win over Lithuania in the bronze medal game.

    He turned down offers to play professionally in Europe to come to the U.S.

    Here, Kanter had interest from virtually every major Division 1 program in the nation during his brief time at Findlay Prep, the defending national champions.

    “It’s been 50-60 schools, everybody from UCLA to USC to Arizona, Texas, Kansas, North Carolina, Kentucky, Memphis, Florida, Ohio State, UConn, you can go right down the line,” Findlay assistant Todd Simon said in August.

    Yet both Findlay and Mountain State — and a slew of colleges — have been scared off by Kanter’s professional background, which has sparked the interest of the NCAA.

    Kanter grew up playing for Turkish club Fenerbahçe Ülker’s youth teams. Last fall he made his pro debut in the Turkish Basketball League and later played in the Euroleague. Still, he did not sign a contract and sources indicated he never received payment.

    “I was on the roster because Semih [Erden] and Ömer [Asik] were injured,” Kanter told “Sitting on the side, I was so nervous. I was joking with my teammates on the bench. Then Mirsad [Turkcan] got into foul problems. Coach [Bogdan Tanjevic] called my name. I was so excited. I felt like I was a roster-filler for that game, so I didn’t expect to play any minutes. I didn’t even tie my knee-pads until I sat down on the substitution chair.”

    The industry source said the club had ulterior motives for putting Kanter in the games.

    “Fenerbahçe, they stuck him in like eight or nine games just to screw with his eligibility because they’re ruthless,” the source said. “European clubs don’t want their kids coming him to America.”

    Multiple sources said Kanter didn’t take any money for his appearances, but the NCAA prohibits players with professional backgrounds from competing on an amateur level in the U.S.

    “At the end of the day, he didn’t do anything wrong,” Mountain State coach Rodney Crawford said. “He himself didn’t break any rules or break any laws. Now the NCAA, that’s up to them to decide.

    “The issue was him playing professionally, which is true, but is not true.”

    When word of Kanter’s background got to the U.S., it caused trouble for both Findlay and Mountain State. Opponents threatened not to play them because of Kanter’s presence on the roster.

    “People cashed in on that eligibility excuse and they had an excuse to use as far as him possibly being a pro so they started backing out of games,” Crawford said. “It wouldn’t have hurt as bad, but it was a few too many.”

    He added: “He wanted to be here. We wanted him here but we couldn’t get around the fact that we wouldn’t be able to play anybody.”

    Now Kanter is at Stoneridge playing for first-year coach Derryck “Tank” Thornton.

    “He’s in school working on his grades trying to get eligible for next year,” Thornton said Tuesday night. “He works extremely hard, extremely hard. He’s going to be awesome.”

    Thornton said he was unfamiliar with Kanter’s background in Turkey but remained confident that he would play American college ball.

    “I completely leave that into the hands of the NCAA,” Thornton said. “From what I’ve heard everything’s going to be fine. Anything the NCAA asks of me I’ll provide. Anything they want me to do is done.”

    Those with knowledge of Kanter’s situation point out that if he truly was driven by money, he would’ve stayed in Europe and signed a big contract.

    “If he really wanted money he wouldn’t be in the U.S.,” the source said. “He really wants to go to college.”

    The source added that there is a difference between European players like Ricky Rubio, who clearly intend to play professionally, and Kanter, who do not.

    “If a kid is under 18 and does not sign a pro contract and then comes to the U.S. and enrolls in a high school he should not be considered a pro,” the source said.

    Crawford added that Kanter was actually a unique role model in an era when American players like Brandon Jennings and Jeremy Tyler leave the U.S. to play overseas.

    “I think he will be able to play college ball,” Crawford said. “I think he will and I think it will be great for college basketball to have a kid who’s doing the opposite of what a lot of our American guys are doing. They’re leaving and going over there to play.

    “He’s coming from over there to go to school here. He’s doing it differently and setting an example for kids over here.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

    • He sure has been to a number of schools already.
      Hope he take the test and does well…

      Note:– Woody ,hawk

      So, Doron has Kansas,Kent, and Okl on his top 3 list.
      Does OKL even have a real chance?

      Since OKL is in your conference, you must have a better insight…
      Right Littletime.

    • jessie-
      its hard for me to imagine why he would pick OU over KU. Everything OU has to offer is matched/surpassed by KU, and another factor is that KU basketball is king, whereas OU football is king (of there respective schools). i think the main reason OU is still on his list is because of Capel. The guy can both recruit and coach the x’s and o’s. He seems like he is very impressive guy to recruits and there families.

      i get the sense in this that Lamb is a KU lean. for some reason i get that feeling and i dont have it with barnes (toss up between KU, Duke, UNC) selby or jones. hopefully im right and he commits shortly after late night

    • He appears to be a KU lean, but there are two things working in OU’s favor: 1) His friendship with Gallon, and 2) He would be a lock to start right away at OU.

    • The only reason the recruits would visit OU is because of Capel’s recruitment ability. Capel does make an impression with the players and the mother’s.

      Calvin and Smith have already agreed on another official visit date.
      Doron is schedule to visit UK. Doubtful that any commit is made with KU.
      If Doron does not commit within 10 days, a new option will emerge.

      Didn’t Capel tweet about watching barnes at 6am,in the morning.
      I hear a new capel rule will be introduced by the ncaa…twe-pel

    • woody- i wasn’t aware he was friends with gallon. also he may not start right away, mason-griffin and warren figure to start this year. if they both come back there’s no way lamb beats them out. if warren goes then its a possibility, but i know OU likes Pledger and they also still have cade davis, so lamb wouldn’t be guaranteed a spot.

      jessie- players have committed to KU after late night and skipped visits before. i know it probably wont happen because calvin seems like he is handling the recruitment very professionally and will take all the visits. i do think he will make up his mind sometime towards the end of the month or in early november though.

      • jhawk- Gallon played at Oak Hill last year with Lamb. I doubt Warren returns for his jr. year most had him as a borderline lottery pick last year.

    • jhawk,

      Calvin and Smith are handling Doron’s recruitment very well. They have been around and will do the professional thing.

      BY DEFAULT…..
      Doron’s new TOP3 list is based on new info.
      New Info: D.Bejarano committed to Arizona and ________.
      Last week ,Calvin stated how much they were excited -about the tent. visit to Arizona. Then, Sunday-Monday conversations happened with Smith,Calvin,Book…
      Book is straight with Smith and knows the Lambs.
      Someone said, “the top players already know which school they are going to.”

    • uawildcat- i agree with you about warren, but you never know for sure. i think (and hope) he leaves after this year but there are a million things that can happen in between now and april when he has to decide.