Since the NCAA issued a response to criticism concerning the Cameron Newton and Ohio State rulings, the chance of UK winning its second attempt to get Enes Kanter eligible appeared bleak. In that release, the NCAA spelled out that there was no proof that Newton received money.
It didn’t mention Kanter, but it didn’t have to mention Kanter. There was no dispute that Kanter received money. UK wanted the NCAA to look at the intent, where the money was concerned. The NCAA only saw money. And that made Kanter a professional.
Like I’ve written before, I don’t blame John Calipari. If Kanter is ruled eligible, it’s a home run. That he wasn’t, and that UK never had him, means technically the Cats didn’t lose anything. There was a reason, however, why more schools didn’t go after the 6-foot-11 talent from Turkey. Apparently, they believed he would never be ruled eligible.
Where does UK go from here? On to Georgia for Saturday’s game. This is a good Kentucky team that it is getting better. It could have been a great team with Kanter, but there’s not much use speculating about that now. This current configuration has been a bit better than I expected. A Sweet 16 ceiling seems more like a possible Elite Eight. With the right breaks at the right time, this could be a Final Four team.
As for Kanter, you have to feel a bit sorry for the big fellow. He’s hung around this long in hopes something would change. But it didn’t. He’s had the opportunity to practice with a top college basketball team, but not play for a top college basketball team. Next we will see him the pros. And, yes, I expect Calipari to be right there beside him on draft day.
There will be NCAA bashing, of course. Some of it may be justified. But in the end, the $33,000 Kanter received beyond reasonable expenses was just too much to overcome. The fact that Kanter got paid for playing basketball was just too much to overcome.