Regarding Kanter, introductions still in order

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 20, 2011 - 1:22 AM

Enes Kanter was ineligible at Kentucky, so the 6-11 prospect is making the rounds to boost his draft stock.

hide

Enes Kanter watched from the sidelines after being ruled ineligible as a Kentucky freshman. His résumé, however, includes a dominant performance at an all-star game that impressed NBA scouts.

Photo: James Crisp, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Two years after arriving in America, Turkish center Enes Kanter speaks English fluently. But it wasn't always that way.

"When I first got here, I couldn't speak any," he says now. "My dad just taught me to say, 'Hello,' and 'My name is Enes Kanter,' and that's it."

In many ways, he's still making his introduction.

Unlike the other guy the Timberwolves most likely will choose if they keep the second overall pick, Kanter, in these weeks leading to Thursday's NBA draft, has done almost everything asked of him by NBA teams to whom the rugged 6-11 center still is something of a mystery.

Arizona's Derrick Williams worked out only for the Wolves and Cleveland -- owners of the draft's first two picks -- and went to Chicago for last month's combine for only interviews and physical testing because, after a sensational sophomore season, he said, "What do you want me to prove? I did that during the season."

Kanter, meanwhile, did every drill requested in Chicago and has auditioned for at least five teams, including the Wolves at Target Center on Thursday. He also is headed to Cleveland on Monday for a second visit with the Cavaliers -- who own the first and fourth picks -- for a simple reason: "Because no one has seen me play yet," he said.

Kanter signed to play at Kentucky last season, but never did so after the NCAA ruled him ineligible for accepting $33,000 from his Turkish club team.

He spent all year in Lexington attending classes and working as a student assistant coach and working out first with the team and then with coach John Calipari and others to prepare for the draft after he permanently was ruled a professional in January.

"I mean, it was really hard because when I watched the game I was crying because I could not help my team," he said.

He has spent the past three months working out with famed trainer Tim Grover at his Chicago gym and answering countless questions -- whether in interviews or during workouts -- from NBA teams who, foremost, have footage of his dominating performance at the April 2010 Nike Hoops Summit international all-star game to study.

A month before his 18th birthday, Kanter broke Dirk Nowitzki's World team scoring record with a 34-point, 13-rebound performance in 24 minutes against an American team that featured future NBA lottery picks Harrison Barnes and Jared Sullinger.

The U.S. team's coach called it one of the best performances he had ever seen. But Kanter now claims that scouts and his opponent didn't see the real him because of a back injury that limited him to just those 24 minutes and 34 points.

"I didn't show myself because before the game I took like four painkillers because of my back," he said. "Before the game, I wasn't sure if I was going to play or not. My coach said, 'Tell me how you're going to feel,' and I said, 'I feel good,' because I had taken four painkillers. I didn't play 100 percent."

Now NBA teams, foremost the Wolves, must decide what Kanter, who turned 19 last month, can achieve when he matures and is fully healthy.

Kanter played in Turkish pro team Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul's development system when he was 15 and turned down multimillion-dollar pro offers two years ago to play at a California prep school because he wanted to play at an American university.

If Calipari were picking, he says he would take Kanter first because he can be a "dominating kind of player" and "a Karl Malone-type big man."

"As the league gets smaller, his ability to dominate his position will grow," Calipari wrote about Kanter on a Kentucky basketball blog posting. "He's got a position and a true size."

Calipari predicts those teams that pass on Kanter one day will look back and "wince at that decision."

"I'm biased because I love him," he wrote, "but I'm also talking in pragmatic terms."

The Wolves must decide if their need for a starting center and Kanter's combination of a crafty low-post game and nice outside shooting touch trumps Williams' promise as a combo forward for a team that already has a couple of them.

"He's a confident kid," said Wolves assistant general manager Tony Ronzone, who first saw Kanter play at age 16.

"In America, most big kids don't like playing basketball. He actually likes it. He's addicted to it. He's just got a motor. He's a quick learner. He wants to be good. He plays hard. He loves to play the game. He'll be in the gym forever."

Kanter moved to Chicago after Kentucky's season ended to work with Grover, Michael Jordan's former trainer, on the city's west side.

His agent also lives in Chicago and suggested Kanter rent a place downtown near him in the city's high-rent, high-rise Gold Coast neighborhood.

"He said, 'We'll have a lot of time to be in the high rise,' " agent Max Ergul said.

"He wants to be by the gym. What 18-year-old wants to be next to the gym rather than on the Gold Coast? That's character."

Character helps, but talent will get Kanter selected as high as second by the Wolves -- if they keep the pick -- and likely no lower than sixth by Washington on Thursday night.

Now, it's time for teams to determine just how much of each Kanter possesses.

"They're just trying to know me," he said. "I'm just telling them everything I know."

  • related content

  • 2011 NBA draft

    Sunday June 19, 2011

    When: 6 p.m. Thursday

  • The Enes Kanter file

    Monday June 20, 2011

    HEIGHT: 6-11 • WEIGHT: 262 • POSITION: CENTERCollege: Kentucky • Year: FreshmanHometown: Istanbul, TurkeyAbout him: Spent last season at...

  • Enes Kanter

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Yankees - LP: M. Pineda 0 FINAL
Toronto - WP: D. Hutchison 2
Detroit - LP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: C. Sale 6
Chicago Cubs - WP: F. Doubront 5 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: J. Masterson 1
Cincinnati - LP: A. Simon 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 3
Minnesota - LP: J. Burton 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: A. Miller 3
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 7 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: B. Colon 2
Miami - WP: J. Cosart 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: A. Harang 0
Boston - LP: A. Webster 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Odorizzi 7
Cleveland - WP: J. Tomlin 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: S. Downs 2
Detroit - WP: K. Ryan 8 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: C. Bassitt 4
Texas - LP: P. Klein 0 FINAL
Houston - WP: S. Feldman 2
Colorado - WP: T. Matzek 2 FINAL
Arizona - LP: V. Nuno 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wada 2 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Gonzales 13
Los Angeles - LP: J. Wright 1 FINAL
San Diego - WP: T. Stauffer 2
Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: J. Peavy 3
Oakland - LP: J. Samardzija 0 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: Y. Herrera 2
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 3 FINAL
Seattle - LP: R. Elias 1
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
BYU 35 FINAL
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
UNLV 13 FINAL
Arizona 58
Penn State 26 FINAL
UCF 24
Troy 10 FINAL
UAB 48
(7) UCLA 28 FINAL
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Massachusetts 7
West Virginia 23 FINAL
(2) Alabama 33
Rice 17 FINAL
(17) Notre Dame 48
(10) South Dakota St 18 FINAL
(24) Missouri 38
Fla Atlantic 7 FINAL
(22) Nebraska 55
California 31 FINAL
Northwestern 24
Marshall 42 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 27
UC Davis 0 FINAL
(11) Stanford 45
Arkansas 21 FINAL
(6) Auburn 45
(16) Clemson 21 FINAL
(12) Georgia 45
Liberty 29 FINAL
(23) North Carolina 56
Ohio U 17 FINAL
Kent State 14
Louisiana Tech 16 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 48
Stephen F Austin 16 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 55
Fresno State 13 FINAL
(15) USC 52
Southern Miss 0 FINAL
Miss State 49
Texas-El Paso 31 FINAL
New Mexico 24
North Texas 7 FINAL
Texas 38
(1) Florida State 37 FINAL
Oklahoma State 31
(14) Wisconsin 24 4th Qtr 9:41
(13) LSU 28
Idaho 0 Postponed
Florida 0
(25) Washington 17 3rd Qtr
Hawaii 10
South Dakota 13 2nd Qtr 1:09
(3) Oregon 35
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Colorado 0 FINAL
Seattle 1
New England 3 FINAL
Toronto FC 0
Columbus 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
FC Dallas 0 FINAL
Chicago 1
Real Salt Lake 1 2nd Half 15:00
San Jose 1
Portland 2 2nd Half 15:00
Vancouver FC 0
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Chicago 70 FINAL
Indiana 77
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many games will the Timberwolves win this season?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close