Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Despite Troubles, Kanter Still Projects as Lottery Pick
Despite the latest news about Enes Kanter, NBA experts expect that the 6-foot-11, 272-pound Turkish big man will still be a lottery pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.
“He’s a first-round pick,” said one Eastern Conference NBA scout. “He’s a lottery pick. It could affect him a couple of spots, but then again maybe not.
“There’s 30 teams. He’s highly skilled and he’s right at the top of the one of the very best guys in this class.”
Pete Thamel of The New York Times reported in Wednesday’s editions that Kanter, a freshman at Kentucky, received more than $100,000 in cash and benefits over three years from Fenerbahce Ulker, his Turkish pro team.
In response to the report, Kentucky issued the following statement: “The University of Kentucky is working diligently with the NCAA on this matter and we fully support Enes Kanter and his family through this ongoing NCAA review. We will have no further comment.”
Even as he is being investigated by the NCAA, DraftExpress.com projects Kanter as the No. 12 pick in the 2011 draft. NBADraft.net has him going No. 3 overall.
“He’s very high on the NBA radar,” the NBA scout said. “He played in the Hoop Summit out in Portland [Oregon]. He played terrific. It was a showcase for him with the whole NBA in attendance playing against a lot of players that on a lot of nights will be better than a lot of those he will play against in college.”
On April 11, playing against an American team that featured North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes, Kentucky’s Terrence Jones and Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger, Kanter had 34 points and 13 rebounds. He surpassed the Hoop Summit world team record of 33 points set by Dirk Nowitzki in 1998.
“I played with my team,” Kanter told reporters that night. “I had 34 points because of my team.”
If the NCAA refuses to grant Kanter clearance to play for Kentucky this season, he could opt to play overseas for a year and then enter the 2011 NBA draft.
Despite the high estimations of Kanter, Ryan Blake, assistant director of NBA scouting, cautions against projecting players as lottery picks too early.
Blake could not speak specifically about Kanter, but said:
“In terms of anybody that’s an underclassmen or whether or not the guy is a senior, we still don’t know where anybody’s gonna go in the draft.
“Listen, we’ve had guys in the past that are young high school kids that have been projected by either the media or people who don’t know the players to be lottery picks and once they enter college find out they’re not worthy of that.”
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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.