|Kerem Kanter, who just turned 17 in April, is already making his mark on the Turkey U18 side and hopes to play one day in the senior national team alongside big brother Enes |
By Jared Grellet
At most European youth basketball events, it is common for a famous surname to pop up on a game sheet and the Samsung U18 European Championship is no different.
One surname standing out in Liepaja is on the Turkish team roster which this year features Kerem Kanter, brother of senior Turkey international and 2011/2012 NBA rookie Enes Kanter.
Enes, who was drafted 3rd overall by the Utah Jazz in the 2011 NBA draft, has played a major role in getting his younger brother involved in the sport which has made him famous.
"He was the reason I started to play basketball," Kerem told FIBAEurope.com, adding, "me and him are playing all the time and he is trying to teach me new things that he knows."
Starting to play the sport seven years ago, Kerem's path has followed a similar route to Enes with the younger brother also completing his secondary school in the United States, where he has been able to fine-tune his game over the past two years, to the point of earning a call-up to the Turkish national team for the first time this summer.
"It is great to be playing for my country and it is a great experience," said the 2.03m power forward, who has averaged 8.3 points and 7.7 rebounds a game through the First Round of the championship, helping Turkey earn a spot in the next phase.
Living in the United States has meant that Kerem has also been able to keep a close eye on his brother's progress, including attending a number of his games.
"I went to almost all of his playoff games and another couple in Boston as that is where I am going to school."
Enes had a quiet NBA debut season, averaging 4.6 points and 4.2 rebounds a night as the Jazz made it through to the playoffs where they were knocked out in the first round by the San Antonio Spurs.
Now that he has achieved his goal of representing Turkey, the next goal for Kerem is to be able to play alongside Enes.
"I hope so," told Kerem in regards to sharing the court with Enes, adding, "it would be great if me and him get to play in the same team one day or alongside each other in the NBA"
"I have a younger brother who is 11 who is also playing and I think he will get better," added Kerem, leaving open the idea that there may even one day be three Kanters who pull on the Turkish national team jersey together.