The NCAA is still poring over the eligibility case of Kentucky recruit Enes Kanter. Kanter's former general manager says Kanter was essentially a paid professional with documentation, which is now in the hands of the NCAA. Kanter's new coach, John Calipari, says he thinks Kanter is an amateur. What does Kanter's family think?
The answer is not likely to surprise you. Speaking to Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News, Kanter's father said he thinks his son is being used by his former club "as an example" to other players. He's certainly not wrong about that:
In an exclusive e-mail exchange with Sporting News, Dr. Kanter said he believes Turkish basketball officials have opposed his son’s effort to become eligible to play at Kentucky “because they are trying to set an example with my son to coming generations in Turkey, so they can control and use the talent and youth any way they like to.”
Kanter's father is also disputing the facts of his son's case as presented by Fenerbahce general manager Nedim Karakas in an interview with the New York Times in early September:
“Since 2007, I wanted Enes to go to the USA and continue his basketball and education there, so I try everything to keep my son amateur and keep meticulous records of all the expenses knowing someday I may be asked (to) fully cooperate with the NCAA.”
And so the messiness of Kanter's eligibility case continues. The club says he was a pro, and they have an obvious vested interest in doing so. Why allow your talent to run off to the amateur ranks of the NCAA when you can get a hefty transfer fee from an NBA team once that player is ready to make the leap? Even more important, why allow your players to set that precedent? Nedim Karakas has a business to run, and that's bad business.
Here's the problem, though, at least where Kanter's future is concerned: His club's motive doesn't matter. It's not like Kanter's father is the first one to make such a connection. The New York Times' Pete Thamel, who landed the original interview with Karakas in September, wrote about that interest high in his first report. It's not a new thing. It doesn't matter if Karakas is being vindictive or controlling. All that matters is whether he's telling the truth. If he is, Kanter's eligibility remains very doubtful.
Kanter's father makes a persuasive case for the moral interests of his son -- he wants an education, he wants to learn a second language, and so on -- and that's all very admirable. (We'll see if Enes' education is still so important when Kanter is projected as an NBA lottery pick, of course.) If the case were as simple as "my son really wants an education," then Kanter, who is clearly intent on becoming an amateur basketball player in the United States, would have been settled months ago.
But it doesn't really matter either. All that registers are the records. Which are more accurate? Which are more persuasive? Who is telling the truth? Who will the NCAA believe? Dr. Kanter? The club? That's the NCAA's job, same as it was before the public knew any of these details. The rest, as interesting as it is, remains more noise than signal.
Everyone but the NCAA clearinghouse has had their say. But the NCAA's say is the only one that truly matters. In other words: wait and see.