Enes Kanter's well-being — not how the program perseveres — will guide Kentucky basketball in the aftermath of an NCAA decision making the freshman permanently ineligible, Coach John Calipari said Monday.
"Ten years from now, Kentucky moves on," Calipari said. "Twenty years from now, they don't look back. ... I'm only worried about an 18-year-old and what it's going to do to him. My point now is to make sure we make an unbelievable situation out of a bad situation."
Toward that end, UK made Kanter a student assistant coach like ex-Cat Wayne Turner. Kanter can help out UK in practice and work out for pro scouts as he prepares for this year's NBA Draft, Calipari said.
More than once, the UK coach noted that Kanter is the youngest player — now non-player — on UK's roster. Kanter did not come to UK intending to be a so-called one-and-done player bound for the 2011 NBA Draft. Suggesting Kanter would be a babe in the pro woods, Calipari said, "He wants to throw himself into that world?"
When asked how Kanter was reacting to the permanent ineligibility, Calipari paused and said, "He's OK."
Then the UK coach added, "I'm trying to convince him, 'You'll be fine.' "
More than once, Calipari noted how long it took the NCAA to rule Kanter ineligible. But didn't UK drag out the case by twice appealing what could have been a final decision?
"We were told to appeal," Calipari said. "Why would we do anything (to drag it out)? (Just) say it!"
Well, not exactly, UK spokesman DeWayne Peevy said a few minutes later.
"The NCAA never told us to appeal," Peevy said before adding, "They (also) never said it was, like, a moot point."
UK seized on that glimmer of hope, Peevy said. Any opening would have sufficed.
"You don't want to feel you've not done everything," said Peevy, who added that the first appeal was a joint decision by all parties: presumably UK, the basketball program and the Kanter family.
A favorable result in such cases is typically made by an appeals panel, Peevy said.
The second appeal, which was said to be based on an NCAA decision allowing Auburn quarterback Cam Newton to continue playing despite his father admitting trying to sell his son's services, was a decision made by Kanter's family, Peevy said.
Neither Calipari nor Peevy said the option to seek a court injunction blocking the NCAA ruling was dead. However, neither embraced the option.
"(Kanter) hasn't brought that up at all," Peevy said. "I've not talked to him about it. He probably doesn't know what that means."
As a student assistant coach, Kanter's first assignment has been simply to understand what that job entails.
When asked what Kanter thought of seeking a restraining order to block the NCAA ruling of permanent ineligibility, Peevy said, "I've had a hard enough time getting him to understand 'student assistant coach.' He knows Wayne Turner wears a suit. He wants to know if he has to wear a suit."
Turner, who played on three UK Final Four teams in the 1990s, returned to school last fall to complete work on an undergraduate degree. That qualifies Turner to be a student assistant coach.
Peevy said that using Turner as an example was the easiest way to get Kanter to understand his new role.
"'You get to be Wayne Turner,' " Peevy said he told Kanter, a native of Turkey who has lived in this country for less than two years. To which Kanter replied, "I don't want to be Wayne Turner."
Peevy described Kanter's role as more coach than practice participant. According to the NCAA, the intent of the rule forming the student assistant coach role was that it serve to train a coach. It is not supposed to be a means for a quality player to help the eligible players improve by challenging them on the court.
Coming off a 77-70 victory Saturday over then No. 10 Kentucky, Georgia made The Associated Press' top 25 for first time since the final poll of the 2002-03 season. Georgia is ranked No. 24. ... Calipari is 25-0 in Rupp Arena as UK coach. ... UK's 26-game home winning streak is the fourth longest active streak. ... Rob Stone and Jay Williams will call the game for ESPNU.