Every once in a while, a story inspires interesting takes from throughout the college hoops Internets. Last night's Enes Kanter news, based on this report from the New York Times, is one such story. Here's a quick roundup of some of the better takes out there. As always, if you want to send me your own, hit me on Twitter. (Disclaimer: Just because an opinion is linked here doesn't mean I necessarily agree with it, so don't get mad at me. Cool? Cool.)
From ESPNEWS reports and Andy Katz: Sandy Bell, Kentucky's associate athletic director in charge of compliance, and a representative of the NCAA's amateurism department may need to go to Istanbul and meet with [Nedim] Karakas if Kanter is to gain eligibility for this season, the compliance officer told Katz. According to the compliance officer, the burden of proof is on Kentucky to prove Kanter received only actual and necessary expenses after Kanter signed with the Wildcats over Washington last year. Those expenses can be food, travel expenses for practices and competition as well as housing. Where this can get dicey is that Kanter was only 14 at the time he started with the club team, and housing for his family may have to have been included. The NCAA could determine that his family getting rent paid for by a club team could be viewed as him using his skill to gain an advantage for his family.
Mike DeCourcy, The Sporting News: The European clubs have obvious motivation to dissuade their best young players from coming here to play. For starters, if somebody’s playing in the NCAA Tournament, he can’t be playing in the Euroleague. Also, if a young player is under contract to a European club and is ready to try the NBA, the club almost certainly will receive a substantial buyout in return. A 19-year old who wants to leave Kentucky for the draft merely signs a paper declaring that intent. He is free to leave. This is the subtext of the NCAA’s investigation into Kanter’s eligibility. The one question the NCAA really must ask is this: if Kanter weren’t committed to being a collegian, why would he be here? There’s plenty of money available to him to play for Fenerbahce or another club. He’s gone to an awful lot of trouble to play college basketball. To be a pro, he’d merely have to return home.
Eric Crawford, Louisville Courier-Journal: Q: What if the club doesn't provide enough documentation to prove it paid Kanter a salary? A: This is kind of a murky area. For all practical purposes, all prospects are essentially ineligible until they meet certain eligibility requirements (it's kind of a guilty-until-proven-innocent situation). While the NCAA isn't likely to determine a player's eligibility on flimsy evidence, the testimony of a club team that it had a verbal agreement to pay a player a salary could be enough for it to determine that the player was a professional. NCAA officials don't necessarily need documents, though I'm sure they would prefer to have them. In other words, it is not so much the NCAA's job to get these claims from the Turkish team and verify them as much as it is Kanter's (and UK's, as best it can) to provide information to refute them.
Rush The Court: This much we know. The burden will rest with Kentucky to prove that Kanter is indeed eligible, and that any payments he took from Fenerbahce Ulker were actual and necessary to only cover his (reasonable) expenses and did not rise to the level of a salary. The organization notably did not provide [Pete] Thamel documentation of the “salary” that was paid to Kanter, so if they’re truly blowing smoke on this in an effort to destroy Kanter’s amateur status, presumably the NCAA would know this. [...] at a certain point (presumably after UK makes its best arguments) it will be the NCAA that has to make the difficult decision as to how much is too much when it comes to whether payments made to Kanter were merely expenses or a full-timer’s salary.
Matt Norlander, College Hoops Journal: Amazing how frequently controversial stories and reports come out of the Kentucky camp. Since [John] Calipari arrived 16 months ago, there’s been about one allegation or sign of smoke per month. This is just the latest, and while it’s more on Kanter than Kentucky, if any evidence surfaces that Kentucky knew of Kanter receiving money, then the dobermans will be unleashed on Calipari and everyone in that athletic department. The recruit is now toxic, though. No matter what comes of this decision, if Kanter ever plays for Kentucky it will only enhance the negative spotlight on the program. Is Kanter’s ability worth that? Most would say, absolutely: yes.
Rick Bozich, Louisville Courier-Journal: Gotta admit that I'm surprised by the Enes Kanter Story. Not that it broke last night at www.nytimes.com. With the delay in Kanter being declared eligible to play at Kentucky by the NCAA as well as the backdrop that he had played in the Turkish basketball system, it was apparent long ago this would be another installment in the He Said-She Said world of determining eligibility. Choose your side. Make your case. Wait for the NCAA to rule. Agree or disagree forevermore. No, I'm surprised that it's not one of the Top 10 trending sports stories on Google news this morning.
Rob Dauster, Ballin' Is A Habit: I'll pose you with one question before signing off on this subject: What is the difference between the money that Kanter got and the money that every high school player attending an expensive prep school gets? Kanter got around $100,000 over the span of about three years, which comes to a little over $30,000 a year. Isn't that the same amount of money that an American player would get -- via tuition -- if he attended, say, Findlay Prep (which is run by a UNLV booster) or Montrose Christian or any other basketball institution? I'm not saying I think that Kanter should be deemed eligible, but I would argue that there are a number of American players that don't even get their eligibility questioned by the NCAA that may as well be "pros" before they can even get their driver's license. Its something to think about.
John Clay, Lexington Herald-Leader: If Kanter is indeed ineligible, it would be an obvious blow to a 2010 Kentucky recruiting class judged by most analysts as to be the nation’s best. For openers, Kanter might well be the best player in the country next year. Doug Gottlieb of ESPN recently blogged that Kanter would be the first pick in next year’s NBA draft. Plus, Kanter and Josh Harrellson are the only two post players on the UK roster. If Kanter cannot play next season, or is suspended for a long period of time, it makes a smaller Kentucky team (compared to last year) that much more guard-oriented. [...] So is this the case of a disgruntled manager trying to get back at his former player? Or is it, as Karakas insists, the truth? The NCAA will have to decide.
Jeff Eisenberg, The Dagger: It's hard to overstate what it would mean to Kentucky's title chances next season if Kanter is unavailable. Without him, the only two Wildcats taller than 6-foot-7 would be seldom-used senior Josh Harrellson and incoming freshman Eloy Vargas, meaning Kentucky would likely have to transform into an up-tempo, pressing, trapping team to contend in the SEC and nationally. Maybe the only blessing here for Kentucky is that the NCAA will make a ruling on this before the season rather than clearing Kanter to play and then retroactively vacating the games he played in and declaring him ineligible. It's a small consolation, but at least it's something, right?