- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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Are you tired of the Enes Kanter story yet? Hey, me too. But -- thanks to Kanter's talent, his unique circumstances, and the seemingly constant stream of information about his NCAA eligibility case -- it continues tp be a story whether we like it or not.
Just a day after John Calipari hinted at a potential Kanter lawsuit against the NCAA comes a rather bold statement from Kanter's father, which he delivered to Sporting News' Mike DeCourcy via e-mail Wednesday. Dr. Mehmet Kanter says he will "guarantee" that if his son is suspended for this season by the NCAA as part of his ultimate reinstatement for next season, Kanter won't enter the NBA draft, where he would likely be a lottery pick, this summer. Like I said: bold.
“Enes would do anything to play and help UK, his teammates and fans,” Mehmet Kanter wrote. “In the last two years, one thing me and Enes never discussed was him being pro. He didn’t mention to me about NBA or draft and I guarantee you as a father – if that’s the NCAA's decision Enes will be a sophomore next year in UK.”
“I know he decided to come to USA to be free in making his own decisions regarding his future, which was seeking an education and playing basketball,” Mehmet Kanter said. “So he still is having hard time understanding most of the things happening the last six months. But I think support from UK staff and fans and his teammates is making it easier on him.”
First, I love the use of "in UK." For whatever reason, I always like it when British soccer announcers say a player is slated to be "in the side" and not "on the team." Why? I have no idea. Having Europeans for childhood soccer coaches apparently made me weird.
More important than my thoughts on European preposition usage, though, is this: Mehmet Kanter's guarantee is admirable. He clearly wants his son to play collegiate basketball in the U.S. He also offered to repay all $30,033 the NCAA and Kentucky agree Kanter and his family made during Kanter's years as a club player in Turkey. All of that stuff is great; in a world where most gifted prospects treat college as a one-year stopover on the way to financial fortune, it's good to see someone so enthused about amateur basketball. Kudos all around.
But I'm also not sure it makes much sense. There are a few reasons why.
For starters, if the Kanters are so intent on their son playing basketball in college, why wouldn't they guarantee that Enes would be at the school for four years? If they're so willing to turn down NBA lottery money, if Enes' professional prospects aren't the reason he's been trying so hard to play in the U.S., why not go all the way?
Another problem is that we have to take Mehmet Kanter at his word. I don't mean to cast aspersions; I'm sure Mehmet Kanter is a very trustworthy guy. But how often do college prospects and their families insist they're returning for another year of school before eventually deciding to leave for the NBA? It happens all the time. It doesn't mean such players are liars; it just means they're smart enough (or dumb enough, depending on the player) to revise their beliefs in the face of a wildly alluring future. Kanter's future, given his status as a likely top-five pick in next year's NBA draft, is more alluring than most.
Finally, the NCAA doesn't care what Mehmet Kanter's father says. The point is worth no small measure of emphasis. All the NCAA cares about is whether Kanter was paid as a professional before he arrived at college. According to its initial finding, he was. Barring a reversal brought on by Kentucky's "new information," Kanter will still be considered a pro. That will be that.
The NCAA isn't interested in bartering with parents on this matter. Essentially, Mehmet Kanter is brokering a deal: "If Enes is eligible, he'll stay in college and play. Word is bond." The NCAA isn't suddenly going to say, "Well, that's interesting. Apparently Enes Kanter really does want to play college basketball. Never mind that whole $30,000 thing. You've got yourself a deal!"
Sorry, but that's not really how it works. If Enes Kanter gets eligible, it will be because the NCAA decides the large sum of money his family made during his career in Turkey was made without Enes' knowledge. It's the Cam Newton loophole, and it's Kanter's last best shot at becoming a college basketball player in the near future. And it is a legitimate one.
But everything else -- guarantees, promises, sentimental appeals -- is only so much noise. We can appreciate the spirit of Dr. Kanter's e-mail, but it'd be a shock if the father's e-mail meaningfully changes his son's future.