The latest twist in the interminable Enes Kanter saga came Wednesday when the Turkish big man's father gave Kentucky fans renewed hope of seeing the highly touted freshman in a Wildcats jersey someday.
Mehmet Kanter told SportingNews.com's Mike DeCourcy via email that he guaranteed Enes would return to Kentucky for his sophomore year if the NCAA would grant him eligibility. In the wake of the ruling on Auburn quarterback Cam Newton earlier this month, Kentucky asked the NCAA to reexamine its decision to permanently ban Enes for accepting a salary from a Turkish pro team
"Enes would do anything to play and help UK, his teammates and fans," Mehmet Kanter wrote. "In the last two years, one thing me and Enes never discussed was him being pro. He didn't mention to me about NBA or draft and I guarantee you as a father -- if that's the NCAA's decision Enes will be a sophomore next year in UK."
The promise from the elder Kanter will surely evoke even greater sympathy for Kanter and anger at the NCAA from Kentucky fans, but logic suggests the decision will be a lot more difficult this spring.
Even without playing a minute of college basketball, the 6-foot-9 Kanter is regarded as a near-certain lottery pick and one of the top draft-eligible big men in the nation. Would he really jeopardize his stock and risk getting injured or exposed by returning to Kentucky to play as a sophomore if the NCAA reverses its decision?
Kanter certainly wouldn't be the first college player to say in December that he intends to return to school only to change his mind and make the appropriate business decision in April. Heck, even John Wall said in early April that he was strongly considering coming back to Kentucky before coming to his senses and becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.
The statements from Kanter's father may be true or they may be well-timed propaganda in hopes of swaying the NCAA during the appeals process. Sooner or later, we'll find out whether the NCAA's opinion has changed.
- Enes Kanter