Turkish big man commits to Cats

Kanter originally picked Washington

March 24, 2010 

Enes Kanter, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound center from Turkey, committed to Kentucky on Tuesday, Scout.com's Evan Daniels reported.

Kanter came to the United States last August and played for Stone Ridge Prep in Simi Valley, Calif.

"He's not the typical European big man," Daniels said of Kanter. "He's physical, strong and a real good rebounder."

Kanter, a Turkish citizen who was born in Zurich, Switzerland, committed to Washington in November. He then changed his mind and reopened the recruiting process. He visited UK during the Senior Day weekend game against Florida.

Kanter becomes the second player in Kentucky's incoming class next fall. He joins wing Stacey Poole Jr., from Jacksonville, Fla.

Kanter, who will turn 18 in May, is considered the top basketball prospect in Turkey.

He was named the MVP of the Under-18 European Championships last summer, averaging 18.6 points and 16.4 rebounds a game in leading Turkey to third place.

Kanter averaged 19.1 points and 14.6 rebounds at the 2008 U18 European Championships.

Several NBA Draft Web sites rate Kanter as a potential lottery pick in 2011.

Kanter's coach at Stone Ridge Prep, Derryck Thornton, told the Seattle Times in February — when it was still assumed the player would sign with Washington — that "he's better right now than anybody in the Pac-10."

Thornton also said at the time that Kanter was nearly 6-11.

Attempts to talk with Kanter and his coach were unsuccessful Tuesday.

Few doubt Kanter's impressive talents, but there are questions surrounding his eligibility to play college basketball.

Before coming to America late last summer, Kanter played in the Turkish Basketball League and in the Euroleague with players who were paid. Kanter reportedly was not paid.

"He may get hit for something," Thornton said during the February interview. "I feel bad for the kid. This kid lived in Turkey. What was he supposed to do, play for the Y? He couldn't. That's what they do. If you're good, you play. If you're a 15-year-old kid, 6-8 and good, in Austria, Turkey or anywhere else in the world, you play where they tell you. You don't know the NCAA rules. I just don't think it's fair. It's not fair the NCAA can punish a kid for doing something three years ago while they were living 10,000 miles away."

Fans can get a look at Kanter in the Nike Hoop Summit game on April 10 in Portland, Ore., where he'll play for the World Select Team against a team of American high school stars. The contest will be televised nationally.

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