Despite not playing at Kentucky last season after an NCAA rules violation, Turkish center Enes Kanter apparently isn’t lacking in confidence that he can make it big in the NBA (Hat tip to Pro Basketball Talk.com)
Kanter was set to play for the Wildcats last season before the NCAA declared him permanently ineligible as a collegiate athlete because he received approximately $33,000 from the Turkish professional team Fenerbahce Ulker in excess benefits.
“I believe if I could have played [at Kentucky], I would go with the No. 1 pick,” Kanter said in . “I believe I am the best player in this draft…”
That lack of playing experience last season has made Kanter the mystery player of this draft. He’s only 19 and is considered physically ready at 6-feet-11 and 260 pounds. Most mock drafts have him as one of the top five picks of the draft.
Kanter said that not playing last season will not hurt his value to an NBA team.
“I’m not worried about anything,” he said. “Even if I could have played, I would have just played like, 22-24 games, because we’d have won many games by 30. I don’t think I missed anything.”
After being ruled ineligible, Kanter remained around Coach John Calipari’s program as a student assistant. The Wildcats dropped a 56-55 loss to eventual national champion Connecticut in the national semifinals.
That disappointing defeat has convinced Kanter that his presence would have changed how his team finished.
“We would have won the national title,” he said during one point of Wednesday’s interview.
A reporter followed up. “Easily?”
“Yes,” was Kanter’s immediate response.
He’s not lacking in motivation or ego, which only adds to his appeal for many teams with top draft picks in tomorrow’s lottery as the most NBA-ready center prospect in the draft.