Every morning, we try to start your day out with a little something in this post to make you smile. Maybe a funny comment, a goofy story or a tribute to a name from the past. But, let’s not kid ourselves. The sun might be out this morning, but you didn’t notice. Breakfast might have been made, but you aren’t hungry. The paper might have been on the….nevermind. You don’t get the paper. Point is, though, it’s the first day of the rest of your post-Enes Kentucky life and you’re not in a joking mood. And, though I thought my “The Enes Kanter Era is over and all I got was this crappy t-shirt” Tweet was solid, we won’t make any jokes here. Instead, let’s just make brief mention and salute to Atlanta singer Cee Lo Green who stopped by one of my favorite shows, A Different Spin, shortly after the Kanter ruling was posted on the NCAA site (that’s weird, right?) and took the stage with his band of hot chicks in leather (that’s brilliant and underrated casting) to perform his new NSFW single, which appropriately summed up my feelings for the NCAA. And a number of other people too, but that’s for a different time. A time with less pain.
So, without further ado, here are your Friday News and Views, written in the musical voice of Cee Lo Green…
– After months of waiting, the NCAA issued a ruling in the case of Enes Kanter and, to the dismay of the entire Big Blue Nation, it was announced that Enes would not be freed. Most expected some sort of penalty for Kanter’s Turkish professional dabbling, but hoped that when the NCAA finally ruled, they would see it as only dabbling and not a professional career. The optimist hoped for a suspension of some kind, maybe some money being paid back and a full roster in time for the most crucial part of the season. Instead, what was handed out was the worst possible scenario with the harshest wording possible (“permanent ineligibility”).
1. Money issue – The primary issue at hand was, of course, the money received by Kanter from the Turkish professional club Fenerbahce. According the NCAA’s release, Kanter’s participation in the club’s junior team from 2006-2008 did not violate any of the many NCAA restrictions, but his final season with the professional team resulted in payments “above his actual and necessary expenses”. Kanter received an extra $33,000 that season, thus making him a professional basketball player. A poorly compensated professional basketball player. Hell, a pretty poorly compensated professional anything, to be honest. The eligibility of Kanter rested entirely on proving that the $33k was to cover expenses, which is now allowable under a new NCAA rule, but the Kanters and UK were not able to do so in the eyes of the NCAA.
2. Appeal – Kentucky, of course, is appealing and Mitch Barnhart said that the defense of Kanter will be centered around the “uniqueness of his circumstances”. Most believe that the likelihood of winning the appeal is extremely small. However, with the new rule change in place and, with the Kanter’s and UK still contending he had every intention of remaining an amateur in the eyes of the NCAA while in Turkey, they appear to at least have an argument. And, since the appeal will be ruled on by a group of school representatives who will look at the circumstances instead of the rule, there’s hope that they could rule on Kanter’s side to set a more player-friendly precedent. The appeals process allows Kanter to resume practicing with the team for the time being, but he will not be allowed to travel with them.
3. Timeline – Surprisingly, the NCAA report provided a timeline of the Kanter case that shows the NCAA to have actually worked fairly quickly in ruling on the Turkish big man’s status. From March – June, the NCAA worked to gather their facts from the Turkish team and put together their findings. That information was presented to the Kanter’s in June, who confirmed them to be accurate in August. From August to late October, the NCAA worked with UK on their side of the case. On October 25, UK agreed to the findings regarding the payments and asked for a ruling on October 27. The NCAA asked for more info on November 1st and UK provided it to them on the 4th and the 8th. Then, the final ruling was issued on the 11th. So, in all reality, it was a three-day ruling process (in its most simplified form). And, to the credit of both, it was handled before the first game of the season, giving the appeals process time to take place with plenty of schedule remaining, meaning that should the light shine on Lexington, Kanter could still be eligible for meaningful basketball games. Knock on wood. The appeal process should take about a month. So, there’s still a chance he could miss six games and someone could be #rightonaccident.
4. Impact – The Kanter ruling was not only important for Kentucky, but for basketball across the globe. It had ramifications for college recruiting, the professional leagues in Europe and the NBA. If it is upheld, the possibilities of major college coaches pursuing top foreign talent becomes even less significant than it is right now (and it’s nearly non-existent). It also serves as another win for the foreign basketball teams who have traditionally operated as, for lack of a better word, a pimp for their players. As ESPN noted in April, nearly every high-level player enters some sort of agreement with a club when they are 15 or 16 and are completely unaware of NCAA rules. Can’t say I blame them. With this ruling against Kanter, who turned down a $6 million contract to come to the United States, construction appears halted on the overseas recruiting pipeline that some thought was being built with the new rule change.
5. What now for UK? – For the Cats, not a lot changes immediately. They haven’t been playing with Kanter and, despite the hopes that he would be eligible, they’ve been forced to begin their season without him already. The team is now void of a defensive presence in the paint and a dominant rebounder. Calipari’s team will now have to count on Josh Harrellson to fill that role to the best of his ability and hope that Terrence Jones and Eloy Vargas both develop a more physical streak on both ends of the floor. The forwards on this team are all skilled outside of the paint and have shown for stretches this season that they feel more comfortable playing more of a finesse game. It would be a beautiful luxury with Kanter. Without him, it could develop into a problem against certain teams.
6. What now for Kanter? – As is the case with UK, nothing much changes for Kanter besides being allowed to practice. If the ruling is upheld, Kanter will be left in limbo until the NBA Draft in June, where he is still expected to be a top pick. Some in the comments had asked if he was now able to sign with an NBA team and the answer to that is no, only players who have gone through the draft can become free agents (Randolph Morris). Technically, he could play overseas, but that’s probably extremely unlikely.
– In the hours following the Kanter ruling, the whole world was churning out stories about what it meant for UK and the NCAA, but Mike DeCourcy at The Sporting News presented an interesting account of Kanter’s situation. DeCourcy slammed the NCAA for not considering Kanter’s situation (the “uniqueness of his circumstances”) in making their decision. According to the story, $20,000 of the money he received from Fenerbahce was used for his education, which would have been permissable by the NCAA if the club had paid that money directly instead of letting the Kanter’s handle it themselves. He even noted that the Kanters offered to pay the money back, including the $20k for the education, if it would allow Enes to play for Kentucky. The NCAA declined. DeCourcy says that the NCAA often rules in these cases based on “the intent to professionalize” and that was not the case here. You could assume that this will be the basis of the appeal.
– On the other hand, Jeff Goodman at FoxSports.com said that it’s pretty clear that under the current rules, Kanter is a professional. But, Goodman says, signing Kanter was worth the risk for Calipari. He says, as nearly everyone does, that Kanter is the “difference-maker” on Calipari’s second UK team and without him, they’re just another top-25 team who would need “everything to fall into place” to make a solid push in the NCAA Tournament. I can’t say I disagree.
– The Cats were already prepared to head into their season-opener without their best player for the second year in a row and, even without Kanter, it shouldn’t be too huge of a deal. Much has been made on message boards about East Tennessee State possibly posing a threat to UK as a tournament team that returns all of their starters and adds their best player from two years ago. But, the truth is, ETSU was the fifth-best team in the Atlantic Sun last year and benefited from one of the worst conference tournaments of all-time in earning their berth. Plus, they’ll be without returning leading scorer and rebounder Tommy Hubbard, who is struggling to recover from knee surgery. If ther eis anything to worry about, it’s a young team coming out flat and playing like they just found out their star Turkish center is out for the year. I don’t see Calipari letting that happen, though.
– Also, it should be mentioned that Kentucky plays Vanderbilt for bowl eligibility on Saturday. If they win (or Auburn’s wins get vacated before Monday), they can start planning for their fifth-straight bowl. If they lose, expect an epic meltdown. And it would be completely deserved. This is as winnable of a game as they’ve had all year.
– I just thought I should mention that today is Corey Maggette’s birthday. You know, since we’re talking NCAA cases and everything.
That’s it for now. Stick around throughout the rest of the day as we get you all set for the ETSU game and we show up hourly to be the shoulder you can shed your big Turkish tears on. Enes or not, basketball season starts tonight and that should be enough to make you smile.