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Friday, January 7, 2011
Happy trails to Enes Kanter

By Diamond Leung

Enes Kanter's journey from Turkey to our college basketball nation has been a strange one.

It appears that after being ruled permanently ineligible once again, he's going to end up going from celebrated recruit to talented practice player to popular student-assistant coach to NBA lottery pick without ever logging a single minute of college basketball.

Is the sport better for it because it upheld the NCAA rulebook? Or is it worse off because it denied a top talent who wanted to showcase his talents here? Those who argued either side ranged from the hypocritical to the sensible to the bombastic, including the suits in the NCAA, members of the grassroots "Free Enes" movement, the media, and Kentucky administrators.

The voice we heard least from was Kanter's. While he might have been able to express himself personally to the NCAA Reinstatement Committee, college basketball fans might always remember him more for the saga than his smooth post moves.

He showed a fondness toward American pro wrestling and roomed with vastly improved fellow big man Josh Harrellson, but the $33,033 he received above his expenses as a club player in Turkey cost him the chance to play here and express himself. That means we'll next be hearing from him in the NBA.

"The silver lining is that Enes will always be part of this team,"  coach John Calipari said in a statement. "My job will be to prepare him for his entry into the NBA draft, which this decision by the [NCAA] will likely necessitate. Enes will always be a part of our family and I plan to be by his side in the green room whenever he is drafted."

That in itself will be a spectacle, but here's hoping that the next time he's able to play, it will be his game that will answer all of our questions about him.