Enes Kanter is definitely one of the big names of the summer and I’m sure he’ll be filed away in the same section of your brain currently occupied with the likes of Hunter McClintock and Konner Tucker. The only difference is that this kid is actually good…NBA good. Other than playing the part of “that guy whose stats UK fans look up when they’ve ran out of other things to look at on the internet while wasting away the hours at work,” Enes Kanter may also play another part in UK’s future. He might affect Terrence Jones’ coming decision.
If you remember back just over a week ago, the question was who Terrence Jones was going to pick. Then that question changed to when will Terrence Jones pick. That question seemed to be answered when we learned that he would most likely be waiting until the Spring, however, even then, nothing was ever really set in stone and you got the feeling that Jones could wait until next year or he could announce his decision within the next hour. The question now is whether Enes Kanter had anything to do with that wavering and, even if he didn’t, what effect will he have on Jone’s decision when the time does come?
Most fans that follow recruiting are familiar with the situation where Coach tells Recruit A about a pending commitment from Recruit B in order to get some feedback on whether Recruit A wants to go ahead and commit and also, if Recruit B does commit, whether Recruit A is going to be turned off in the future. That scenario normally only comes up when Recruit B is less talented than Recruit A, which probably isn’t the case here. However, there are eligibility concerns with Kanter, which may make Jones the more coveted recruit despite being even skills-wise. Personally, I wonder if Terrence Jones, knowing that he would prefer to wait, still may have been mulling over pulling the trigger for Washington before Kanter added his name to the Huskies roster. But that’s all probably just me over-thinking the situation, which I’m known to do.
Regardless, the second part of the scenario now comes into play. Looking at the Huskies roster, they only lose one senior in forward Quincy Pondexter but they’re roster will have only one returning forward starter in Bryan-Amaning and only three players 6-8 or above: Bryan-Amaning, mildy used Darnell Gant (13 min/gm) and seldom-used Brendan Sherrer (3 min/gm). Therefore, at first glance, it would seem that playing time is very much available. Let’s just assume you lock in Bryan-Amaning (F), Isaiah Thomas (G) and Abdul Gaddy (G) into starting roles, that leaves two potential spots open.
On top of Kanter, the Huskies are also bringing in 6-7 forward Desmond Simmons, who also plays a perimeter-oriented game like Jones and Kanter, to a degree. Simmons, however, looks like he might need some work before taking a larger role and may not pose much of a threat to Jones’ playing time. Then you have to hope that then-senior Justin Holiday (4-star WF out of HS), then-sophomore Tyreese Breshers (4 star PF out of HS) or then-sophomore Clarence Trent (3 star PF out of HS) don’t step up and take on larger roles. If they do, which they should, that would leave three upperclassmen, and possibly Simmons, competing with Jones for the final starting spot alongside Kanter, who would almost certainly start at the center position.
The duo of Kanter and Simmons, plus the potential further development of the Huskies other forward prospects, leaves you wondering if Jones would have rather had only Simmons to compete with in his own class instead of another NBA prospect vying for playing time and probably taking up a starting spot. That all comes down to Jones’ personal preference, something only he could truly know.
Taking all of this into account, it seems that Jones’ decision only got harder as the Fall signing period came and went. That fact may have been the real reason that Jones was having a hard time deciding or even deciding when to decide. As a Kentucky fan, or a fan of any other school on his list, you hope that Kanter represents a recruit that just slid into the cozy little spot that Jones thought he had waiting for him. As a Washington fan, you’re hoping that Kanter helps Jones feel like his chances of success are greater with the higher level of talent that the Huskies are bringing in and he feels he could co-exist with both of head coach Lorenzo Romar’s 2010 commits. Only Jones will know which group of fans get their wish. For now we just have to wait, for who knows how long, to see what Jones is really thinking.