View Full Version : ZagsBlog: "The Curious Case of Enes Kanter"

10-15-2009, 09:04 AM
From Adam Zagoria's blog (http://www.zagsblog.com/2009/10/14/the-curious-case-of-enes-kanter/) comes this interesting story regarding Esnes Kanter today:
he curious case of Enes Kanter gets more curious every day.

Kanter, a 6-foot-10 Turkish citizen born in Zurich, Switzerland, is now at his third American school in the span of two months.

Kanter has surfaced at Simi Valley (Calif.) Stoneridge Prep after brief stops at Findlay (Nev.) Prep and Beckley (West Va.) Mountain State.

“He legitimately wants to be here and go to college and Stoneridge is the only option,” said an industry source with knowledge of Kanter’s situation. “He would like to get eligibility by passing the [standardized] test. He might not even play at Stoneridge.

“He could enroll in college in the spring semester.”

Kanter, 17, was named Most Valuable Player of the 2009 U18 European Championship in Metz, France.

He averaged 18.6 points and a tournament-best 16.4 rebounds in leading his team to a bronze medal.

Kanter went for 32 points and 25 rebounds in a semifinal loss to Serbia before bouncing back and going for 35 points and 19 rebounds in a 95-74 win over Lithuania in the bronze medal game.

He turned down offers to play professionally in Europe to come to the U.S.

Here, Kanter had interest from virtually every major Division 1 program in the nation during his brief time at Findlay Prep, the defending national champions.

“It’s been 50-60 schools, everybody from UCLA to USC to Arizona, Texas, Kansas, North Carolina, Kentucky, Memphis, Florida, Ohio State, UConn, you can go right down the line,” Findlay assistant Todd Simon said in August.

Yet both Findlay and Mountain State – and a slew of colleges — have been scared off by Kanter’s professional background, which has sparked the interest of the NCAA.

Kanter grew up playing for Turkish club Fenerbahçe Ülker’s youth teams. Last fall he made his pro debut in the Turkish Basketball League and later played in the Euroleague. Still, he did not sign a contract and sources indicated he never received payment.

“I was on the roster because Semih [Erden] and Ömer [Asik] were injured,” Kanter told TrueHoop.com. “Sitting on the side, I was so nervous. I was joking with my teammates on the bench. Then Mirsad [Turkcan] got into foul problems. Coach [Bogdan Tanjevic] called my name. I was so excited. I felt like I was a roster-filler for that game, so I didn’t expect to play any minutes. I didn’t even tie my knee-pads until I sat down on the substitution chair.”

The industry source said the club had ulterior motives for putting Kanter in the games.

“Fenerbahçe, they stuck him in like eight or nine games just to screw with his eligibility because they’re ruthless,” the source said. “European clubs don’t want their kids coming him to America.”

Multiple sources said Kanter didn’t take any money for his appearances, but the NCAA prohibits players with professional backgrounds from competing on an amateur level in the U.S.

“At the end of the day, he didn’t do anything wrong,” Mountain State coach Rodney Crawford said. “He himself didn’t break any rules or break any laws. Now the NCAA, that’s up to them to decide.

“The issue was him playing professionally, which is true, but is not true.”

When word of Kanter’s background got to the U.S., it caused trouble for both Findlay and Mountain State. Opponents threatened not to play them because of Kanter’s presence on the roster.Lots more interesting stuff in Zagoria's blog here (http://www.zagsblog.com/2009/10/14/the-curious-case-of-enes-kanter/).

10-15-2009, 09:15 AM
Zagsblog is a solid place for recruiting news. Seems like only a year or so ago he had only info on guys from ny/nj/pa and maybe md/va area. Now he's got coverage of high profile kids from all over. Good place to keep tabs on what's going on with the big boys of recruiting

10-15-2009, 10:17 AM
From Adam Zagoria's blog (http://www.zagsblog.com/2009/10/14/the-curious-case-of-enes-kanter/) comes this interesting story regarding Esnes Kanter today...

It would seem that GU staff experience creates a positive position on risk/reward evaluation in this matter. (that’s my professional side speaking)

Esnes Kanter could be a huge get and fill the void some are concerned about. (that’s my fan side speaking)


10-15-2009, 10:50 AM
BobZag had posted on guboards a while ago about what a plum Kanter would be for a US college, so his name stuck with me and made me interested when I saw the lead about Kanter in Zagoria's blog.

Another reason my attention was flagged was that BobZag also had mentioned two of European prospects in the past couple of days, including Phillipp Neumann, a 6'10" 17-year-old center who had shone on Germany's U-18 team this summer. (FIBA profile (http://www.fibaeurope-u18men.com/en/default.asp?cid={0A5D217A-4698-4FA8-B126-60BCC13F0FEC}&teamID=288&compID={2248A846-FA78-40FF-B03C-54B460890F45}&season=2009&roundID=6637&playerID=70511)). Checking into him further, I found that he played for a club in Nuremberg which appeared to be a professional club. "Is he gettable or not under NCAA rules?" I wondered.

The NCAA rules appear to be hideously convoluted in this area. Elias fit within the NCAA rules but Robin Benzing had not. "What's up with that?" I asked myself. Now, it appears Kanter may be up against the same issues, though he's apparently never taken a dime.

I knew the European system was much different than ours, but I didn't understand fully how. I think these articles helped me begin to see some differences, and the European system has much to recommend it to me. I bolded in blue a segment that reminded me of Kanter and his choice to come to the US and find his playing time so limited, vs. playing in Europe.

What's the Difference between Basketball Development in the US and Europe? I found an excellent article by Marc Isenberg in Basketball Times (http://www.moneyplayersblog.com/blog/2009/06/basketball-development-europe-vs-us.html), published in June this past summer:
Several months ago, my good friend Fran Fraschilla – ESPN analyst, former college head coach and international basketball expert – and I were talking about the differences between basketball development in the United States and abroad. He suggested that I attend the Reebok Eurocamp in Treviso, Italy (where he has served as a coach for the last five years), this summer and observe firsthand. Italy. Basketball. Friendly people .....

Fraschilla served as my unofficial guide for the Reebok Eurocamp in Treviso, Italy. Not only did Fran and I spend countless hours talking about global basketball issues. Fran also engaged several coaches, scouts, GMs, players and agents in our never-ending discussion.

The purpose of my trip was simple: To learn more about international basketball and to evaluate the pros and cons of development in the United States and abroad.
Here are some of my de Tocqueville-like observations of my European adventure:


European basketball places great emphasis on practice. An odd contrast: A giant banner of Reebok endorser Allen Iverson hung in the La Ghirada gym. Like a catchy song you can’t get out of your head: “We're talking about practice, man. We’re talking about practice. We’re not talking about the game.” Exactly. Practice is everything to European players. Fewer games, more practice. Sounds boring, but that is precisely why European basketball improved at an amazing pace. Coaches understand the importance of practice. European players buy in.


The NBA predraft camp was roundly criticized because the agreed-upon format and player agents conspired to keep players from going head-to-head. At Reebok Eurocamp, players participated in intense skill workouts in the morning, then played games the rest of the day. Houston Rocket GM Daryl Morey even tweeted: “The Reebok Eurocamp: Where 5-on-5 happens. Congrats to the Reebok organizers for their radical idea of having the prospects play basketball.”

Competition breeds success. If players want to be the best, they have to beat the best. I am a players’ advocate. I try to view things through the players’ lenses. But when it comes to predraft, I believe NBA teams – which are investing millions in their draft picks – have every right to see players go head to head. Come on agents, just let your clients play ball.

Basketball as a cultural exchange

NCAA rules have, unfortunately, conspired to reduce the impact of foreign players in American basketball. NCAA rules view many foreigner players as professionals simply because they play on teams with professionals. These players are born into a developmental system that is far different than ours. Arturas Karnisovas, who played collegiately at Seton Hall and then played professionally in the NBA and in Europe (he now scouts for the Houston Rockets) pointed out: “The NCAA system penalizes players who are very good and can play on the high level early in their careers. The fact that 17- or 18-year old players can play against older men should not stop them from being eligible to play in NCAA.” If the NCAA bothered to notice, our summer club system professionalizes U.S. players just as much, if not more, than European players. We just call them “amateurs.”

We’re missing a valuable opportunity to improve college basketball and also the development of American players who benefit, both on and off the court, from being around European players. Karnisovas believes European players tend to be more “independent and self-sufficient” than their US counterparts. We need more of these players in college basketball. And we should be sending more U.S. players overseas for basketball and cultural exchange programs.

Developing greatness

One Eurocamp player expressed his views on college basketball: “It seems so absurd. Why would I want to go to an American university and only be allowed to play 20-30 hours a week? And why can coaches only work with players two hours per week? That makes no sense. How do players improve? Here, we work out with our coaches four, five hours per day.”

So Europe is developing great basketball at the expense of education? Hardly. The player continued: “I go to university because I want to get an education, not because I want to play basketball. There, I am just a student.” Yes, you can be a student and an athlete. Being a “student-athlete” is a bit more tricky.

Becoming an elite athlete is not normal. Someone once said that Olympic gold-medal winners train 12 hours a day for 12 years. And so do the losers.

Competing at the highest level of basketball – or any sport – is a relentless, unbalanced pursuit.

11-02-2009, 01:40 AM
To be honest...nobody here in Europe understands what the NCAA is doing. Philipp Neumann's team is playing in the same league as Elias Harris' former team is. Now Speyer (where Harris is from) did something that, in my opinion, is unprecedented. They refrained from signing any professionals for the last three years in order to not impede Elias Harris' eligibility.

Nuremberg is the farm team of Bamberg, a first division team. In Germany, competition on the youth level is not as deep as in the US. Players like Neumann, Harris, Benzing or Nebraska's Christian Standhardinger dominate on the youth level. However, if you would force them to only play with kids their own age, they would hardly progress because there is no one their who can really push them towards greatness.

Dirk Nowitzki started playing with grown men at the age of 16 and was leading Germany's top division in scoring by the time he was 19. Don't forget that immediately before he was drafted (right after he blew up the Nike Summit), he was still contemplating enrolling at Cal. By today's standards, he would have been ineligible for at least a year, maybe he would not have gotten eligible at all. However, if somebody would have forced Dirk to play with kids his own age until he turned 18, he would have never turned out to be the player he is now.

The bottom line is: If a German kid is a good player, he needs to get in the ring with grown men - some of whom are undoubtedly professionals. What the NCAA fails to see, however, is that there is simply no alternative to becoming a better basketball player over here.

Does Enes Kanter get better by dominating the 18-and-under Eurobasket and eating even the best opponents (Dejan Musli, Jonas Valanciunas) alive? I seriously doubt it. But put him into a Euroleague game, and an American "source" says Fenerbahce is ruthless for doing so. In the end, we do not have a collegiate system. So the choice is:
A) have kids play against grown men to make them ready for the college game and risk that they lose eligibility
B) have kids play against kids...then playing college hoops is out of the question, because they won't be ready to compete on that level and nobody is going to be willing to sign them.

In the end, this makes America from the land of opportunity into a land of protectionism. Because, let's face it - practice at, say, an Oak Hill Academy is far more professional than at any German third-division team.

11-02-2009, 03:43 AM
mariofour, welcome!

I did see another recent well-written and thoughtful post on this subject by Tom Farrey at ESPN.Com (http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/news/story?id=4579737):
NCAA looking at playing-with-pros rules

Momentum is building to allow coaches in most NCAA sports to recruit some athletes from professional teams, according to the head of an NCAA committee that has proposed the major rule change.

Michael Rogers, chair of the NCAA Division I Amateurism Cabinet, told ESPN that coaches associations have lined up behind his group's recommendation to open college sports to prospects who come up through clubs that include professional athletes, but didn't receive salaries.

It is a move shaped, in part, by the influx of foreigners into college athletic programs.

Currently, athletes can jeopardize their amateur eligibility by merely playing alongside a teammate who received "more than actual and necessary expenses" from that club.

"One athlete professionalizes all of his teammates," said Rogers, a Baylor law school professor. "There's a growing consensus that there is an unfair standard. It needs to be changed, and that's what we're trying to accomplish this year."

The proposal, introduced in June, is under review by the NCAA constituency.

Unlike the U.S., most countries have no system of elite college or high school sports. Promising athletes are groomed in clubs that sponsor teams all the way from the youth level to the senior level, where expenses and -- sometimes -- salaries are paid. Amateurs often suit up with pros, for a few games or an entire season.

Of the 490 incoming athletes penalized for amateurism violations last year, 434 were foreign students, according to the NCAA. Punishments range from being forced to sit out games to, more rarely, permanent ineligibility. In 2007, basketball players Lucca Staiger of Iowa State and Fabian Boeke of Washington State were sidelined for a year for playing on a German club with two teammates who received benefits in excess of NCAA limits.

11-02-2009, 05:48 AM
What no one really understands over here is why the NCAA went out to install such a rule.

In the 90's, it was very common for young pros from Europe to take the direct route to the NCAA. For example, Ademola Okulaja had won the Korac Cup, a European top-notch competition with ALBA Berlin, where he played on a team full of pros. Others were also pros in Europe before enrolling at NCAA schools, like Nadav Henefeld and Doron Sheffer (UConn), Iker Iturbe (Clemson) etc., the list goes on forever.

Now, the NCAA made that rule change without even considering the circumstances in Europe. I hope that the NCAA will change the rule back, because everything else is unfair to teenagers aspiring to get athletic and academic development in the US.

11-02-2009, 06:59 AM
In my observation, the NCAA men's basketball program is dominated by the elite schools, most of which are members of the BCS (Bowl Championship Series) conferences. The elite and BCS schools are able to recruit student athletes from the best that the USA has to offer and generally speaking they don't need to explore European players. Some people (including me) believe that the NCAA is not particularly interested in making it easy for European players to come to US programs, perhaps because those European players may allow smaller and non-BCS programs to acquire high quality European players to compete with the BCS elite schools.

Perhaps I am just paranoid, but NCAA men's basketball is big business in the USA, with the NCAA tournament commanding television licensing fees valued in excess of a billion US dollars. The elite / BCS schools have very little incentive to share the wealth with smaller schools.

Go Bulldogs! Get Bigger!

11-02-2009, 09:16 AM
What no one really understands over here is why the NCAA went out to install such a rule.

In the 90's, it was very common for young pros from Europe to take the direct route to the NCAA. For example, Ademola Okulaja had won the Korac Cup, a European top-notch competition with ALBA Berlin, where he played on a team full of pros. Others were also pros in Europe before enrolling at NCAA schools, like Nadav Henefeld and Doron Sheffer (UConn), Iker Iturbe (Clemson) etc., the list goes on forever.

Now, the NCAA made that rule change without even considering the circumstances in Europe. I hope that the NCAA will change the rule back, because everything else is unfair to teenagers aspiring to get athletic and academic development in the US.

The NCAA is political and not too many people here understand why they do some things and why they don't do other things. The NCAA is a joke. Someday they will be replaced with a better governing body.

11-02-2009, 11:24 AM
Obviously superior thoughts and posts Mario. Welcome aboard to BZ's living room batch of postings. NCAA is thugish in application of rulles. Politicallt hard to know who's helping whom. Messy situation with the foreign nationals.
Kids should move up if they train hard and have the talent. Governing bodies help in some ways but do much damage in others. If the NCAA was consistent, it would be much easier to accept their rules. Not so much with erratic edicts. Just my opinion but I do think NCAA has WAY too much power. If they're running short on money, they just rig up some new rules that generate cash for themselves. It's hard to understand.