Reactions to Enes Kanter from around the web

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Enes Kanter, as basically everyone expected, has been ruled ineligible by the NCAA.
Ray Holloman, Fanhouse: “No one is accusing the coach of sending an envelope of liras via FedEx or fixing a grade on the history of the Ottoman Empire. No one is accusing him of so much as promising to put kabobs on the training table. Kanter isn’t a kid charged with two felonies (like Tyree Evans at Maryland and then Kent State) or a kid who can’t graduate with his high school class (Tony Mitchell, Missouri’s top recruit) or a kid with more eligibility issues than the Chinese women’s gymnastics team (say, Renardo Sidney). Calipari didn’t knowingly violate a recruiting rule, then make sure to commemorate it in photo form, then lie to the NCAA about it, as Tennessee’s Bruce Pearl did. All Calipari did is recruit a kid with known eligibility issues who he believed would be able to play, and give him a chance to play college basketball. The only culpability Calipari could hold is if he knew Kanter took money from his Turkish team and never told his school or the NCAA about it. Let us clear up that mystery for you right now: He didn’t.”

John Clay, Lexington Herald: “Truth is, getting Enes Kanter eligible was a longshot all along. That doesn’t mean that UK’s appeal is without merit or hope. There is always hope. This is the NCAA we’re talking about, and strange things can happen with the NCAA. But the words “permanently ineligible” have to sting. And the fact that the Indianapolis body put a specific monetary figure of $33,033 deemed above and beyond reasonable expenses make winning an appeal seem something of a longshot, as well.”

Matt Jones, Kentucky Sports Radio: “I will talk much more about this tomorrow, but the appeal will be a different proceeding than what took place so far. Whereas the original group that made the determination is a particular set of NCAA employees, the appeal group includes members from the various NCAA schools and has a different set of criteria. The original group simply tries to apply the rule, whereas the appeal body has the ability to look at the rule from a more legal standpoint. There is a consideration of the equities involved (think “fairness” issues) AND Enes Kanter can (and likely will) be able to speak directly to the group). One cant appeal the facts, they are set….but the facts really arent in dispute. What can be changed is how the rule is looked at going forward…something that might help Kanter. It is a long shot, but Enes does have the potential to have a viable appeal due to the unique nature of this being the first interpretation of the rule.”

Jeff Goodman, FOXSports: “Unless UTEP coach Tony Barbee or UMass head man Derek Kellogg — two of Calipari’s former players — are on the committee, it’s difficult to imagine other administrators going against the NCAA’s decision in order to clear one of his players. You see, Calipari isn’t exactly well-liked in college basketball circles. And now, you’ve got one of his players, someone who the school has admitted took in excess of $33,000 from a Turkish basketball club, trying to get approved to play college basketball. Kanter’s amateur status is now history. He is a pro — plain and simple.”

Gary Parrish, CBSSports: “‘If Kentucky gets Enes Kanter eligible, I’m recruiting Ricky Rubio next year.’ That’s what a coach told me a couple of months back, and I think he was joking but I can’t say for sure. Either way, what I took from that statement was this: The NCAA allowing Kanter to play despite his background as a professional basketball player in Turkey would, in the eyes of most everybody outside of Kentucky, set a dangerous precedent. That’s why I said on a radio show in Louisville on Wednesday that I did not believe the NCAA would clear Kanter, and why I wasn’t stunned when the NCAA announced Thursday that it has ruled the UK freshman permanently ineligible. Kentucky will appeal, of course. But good luck with that.”

Eamonn Brennan, College Basketball Nation: “Taking Kanter was a chance, but it was a chance that came with no downside. Calipari didn’t use a scholarship he would have otherwise given to another player, and if Kanter had been cleared, he would have immediately been one of the best big men in the country. If he wasn’t cleared, then oh well, right? Kanter’s talent was certainly worth the shot.”

John Stevens, Rush The Court: “The issue here was not that Kanter played in games with professional players during his short time playing on the senior level at Fenerbahce. The NCAA statement notes that, “The new NCAA rule that allows prospective student-athletes to compete on teams with professionals while maintaining their amateur status prior to college applies,” but then says that Kanter simply received what the NCAA considers too much compensation for that season. Obviously, Kentucky will appeal. Because the school agreed to all of the facts and figures involved in the NCAA’s process of making this decision, the appeal will likely center on reducing the harshness of the punishment and citing any remotely relevant precedents to that effect.”

Glenn Logan, A Sea of Blue: “This news will require Calipari to rethink how he plays his players. I’m sure he has been doing this for a while now, but he has to consider
the likely reality that Enes Kanter will not be walking through that door. The DDM looks like the way to go now, since he has the personnel to implement that offense, and I expect that he will. He will undoubtedly also throw in some hybrid offense and make some defensive adjustments, possibly even some zone to help hide their lack of size on defense. To my knowledge, Calipari has never consistently run a zone defense, so this may be a learning experience for him as well as his young charges.”

Jeff Eisenberg, The Dagger: “Maybe the only blessing here for Kentucky is that the NCAA made a ruling on this before the season rather than clearing Kanter to play and then retroactively vacating the games he played in and declaring him ineligible. It’s a small consolation, but at least it’s something, right?”

Andy Katz, ESPN.com: “Enes Kanter was an anomaly. He was a projected lottery pick from Europe, but his intentions were to go to college in the United States, at least for a year. This doesn’t happen in the new world order of elite, high-level foreign players. If they are on the NBA’s radar to be a possible lottery selection or first-rounder, then they are usually held in Europe before being draft-eligible. That’s what made the Kanter move so unique.”

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
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LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
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STORRS, Conn. — UConn swingman Tyrese Martin, who transferred from Rhode Island in April, has been granted a waiver that will allow him to play for the Huskies this season.

The 6-foot-6 junior averaged 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds and started every game last season for URI, where he was recruited by current UConn coach Dan Hurley.

NCAA rules require undergraduate transfers to sit out a season, but the organization has been more lenient in granting waivers during the pandemic.

Martin, 21, is expected to compete for playing time at UConn on the wing as both a guard and small forward.