Is Kentucky Recruit Enes Kanter a Professional Basketball Player?

Enes Kanter, if you do not immediately remember, is the Turkish center/power forward who declined an immediate path into the Turkish pro leagues to play at Kentucky for a year (presumably before being drafted in 2011 in the NBA).  He was Rivals' 3rd overall prospect and the top-ranked center of the class - a part of Calipari's dream class loaded with 5-star one-and-done guys.

But a New York Times article by Pete Thamel discusses the possibility that Kanter may have been paid by his Turkish club, and that the payment did not just cover the allowable room and board expenses, but amounted to a salary as well.  (Hat tip to Mike Griffith and his Twitter feed.)  From the article:

The best recruit in Kentucky’s top-ranked recruiting class, the Turkish center Enes Kanter, received more than $100,000 in cash and benefits over three years from the professional team he played for here, according to the team’s general manager.

Fenerbahce Ulker, the Turkish club that Kanter was a part of, has stated that they have turned over all their financial records regarding Kanter to the NCAA for review.

Karakas said the club provided Kanter and his family with between $100,000 and $150,000 starting when Kanter was 14 and he and his family moved from the Turkish capital of Ankara to Istanbul.

(Karakas is the club's general manager.)

There are several complications in the story listed in the article, particularly whether Kanter was a part of the club and how much money was for legitimate expenses (e.g. room and board), but the heart of the issue will be whether he received money that could only be interpreted as salary.

"For Enes, he was a different guy from all the players because if you have a good player and he’s coming with his family we are renting them a house and giving him pocket money," he said, putting that amount at between $20,000 and $25,000 a year.

Perhaps most important in the eyes of the N.C.A.A. is that during Kanter’s final season with Fenerbahce he played in at least nine games with the senior club and drew a salary on par with those players. Karakas said that meant an initial payment of $19,800 and monthly payments of $6,500 during Kanter’s final season with the team.

Calipari has cautioned against early judgment, declaring that there is a lot of misinformation out there.

"There was no money, from what we’re seeing, what the kid is saying and the family, and what Nike is saying," Calipari told The Sporting News. "There’s a lot of misinformation out there. You’ve got people talking about it that don’t know, just heard a rumor."

No matter what happened, though, this should resolve quickly (in NCAA time); the issue is one of accounting - of numbers on a ledger - and won't have to rely too heavily on tracking down witnesses and word of mouth.  There is a lot more in the New York Times article linked at the top of the page (and re-linked here for convenience), but I'll leave you with the closing comment:

Karakas said he is skeptical of Kanter’s intentions.

"I don’t believe that Enes will be a very good student at school in the States," he said. "He won’t be a hard worker. I know. I know his fundamentals for school. We know the education that he had before and what he did here in Turkey.

"But he’s a very hot prospect for basketball."

The rest is sitting and waiting on the NCAA.

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