Enes Kanter never played a game for the University of Kentucky, but he still managed to leave a strong impression on his notoriously demanding head coach.
John Calipari coached Kanter during the 2010-2011 college basketball season, but never had the fortune of seeing the Turkish big man in game action. Before the start of the season, the NCAA declared him permanently ineligible for receiving “impermissible benefits” while playing for a Turkish club team two years prior. Kanter challenged the ruling, but his appeal was denied in January, 2011.
Kanter agreed to a two-year deal with the Boston Celtics on Monday, making him one of multiple centers/forwards who will be tasked with filling the void left by Al Horford. Shortly after news of the deal broke, Calipari took to Twitter to explain why, according to him, Kanter is a “great signing” for Boston.
Here’s what Coach Cal had to say:
Kanter has his flaws — poor shooting range and almost non-existent interior defense, to name a couple — but still should be great addition to the Celtics. In particular, Kanter has a reputation for being one the NBA’s most tenacious rebounders, especially on the offensive glass.
Kanter averaged 13.7 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game last season, splitting time with the New York Knicks and Portland Trail Blazers. Over eight seasons, the 27-year-old Kanter has posted 11.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game.
By the way, that 2010-11 Wildcats team? They wound up losing in the Final Four to Kemba Walker and the UConn Huskies, who eventually beat Gordon Hayward, Brad Stevens and the Butler Bulldogs in the National Championship Game.
Walker, of course, is set to join the Celtics when the NBA free-agent moratorium lifts July 6.