Kanter, Turkey's Hot Property

27 July 2008

Enes Kanter is dominating the U18 European Championship Men and is a huge reason why Turkey have started the tournament with two victories.

The talented 2.04m power forward, however, just turned 16 years old in May and has Turkish basketball in a dilemma in many ways.

On the one side, there was a dilemma whether to bring Kanter to the U18 tournament since he will also play at the U16 European Championship Men in August. Turkey meanwhile also believe that Kanter has the ability to make the senior national team sooner rather than later.

"We didn't want him to play two tournaments. He will be exhausted because of that. But we don't have the tall players and we need him so much here," said Taner Günay.

The Turkish U18 coach then admits that his bosses are thinking about Kanter for the senior side as soon as the much-anticipated 2010 FIBA World Championship in Istanbul. But the Turkish power forward situation is very crowded with the likes of Omer Acik, Semih Erden, Ogus Savas, Kaya Peker and Mehmet Okur ahead of Kanter.

That brings up the next dilemma. Even though Kanter is dominating the U18 group as a 16-year-old - averaging 21 points and 10 rebounds - Günay believes that Kanter's future may actually be at the small forward position.

Günay has worked with Kanter for the past three years and has been putting Kanter in the small forward position during practice sessions. But the Fenerbahce player continually drifts back into the block and wants to post up. Günay wishes he had another inside player at this tournament to allow Kanter to play the small forward.

The federation is also trying to figure out which route is best for Kanter to develop for the future.

If he stays at Fenerbahce, he will not get much playing time. So there is the option of playing him with the Turkish giants' junior team. But the Turks are also considering sending him to the United States to attend high school. A decision is expected after the U16 European Championship Men.

What is without question about Kanter - the son of a professor father and teacher mother - is that he is a star talent.

"When he was born, like with Michael Jordan, it was written that Enes can be a basketball player. I'm not comparing him to Michael Jordan. But the passage while they were younger was similiar," said Günay.

Experts agree that Kanter has plenty of time to develop his game, which is already very advanced. He does not have great footwork but he gets excellent positioning and is a tremendous rebounder. He can be very, very good."

Turkish guard Can M. Mutaf has been Kanter's room-mate during numerous camps over the past three years and said the native of Van in eastern Turkey is a joy to be around.

"He's a very funny guy. He talks all day - and really says crazy things to make us laugh," said Mutaf, who is also Kanter's team-mate in the Fenerbahce system. "But he also works so hard and that makes him better. He is very ambitious and always tries to do his best."

Kanter himself is very shy when answering reporter's questions - offering little glimpses of that laughable and talkative youngster Mutaf described.

When asked what it's like for him to play at a U18 tournament as a 16-year-old, Kanter says through a Turkish assistant as an interpreter: "I want to be a champion here. This is a big experience for me - also for the up-coming tournament."

With up-coming tournament, Kanter meant the U16s in Chieti in August. And he has big plans in Italy: "I want to be a champion there as well. Maybe I can be the top scorer and the top rebounder as well."

Chances of that are good after starring at the U18 level.

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