Posted by: Van on June 25th, 2011The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
Its finally come and gone and while Jimmer fans still mourn, there seems to be a great deal of optimism regarding this year’s Utah Jazz draft class. While high draft marks and good measurables give us reason to hope there is often so much more required to truly develop into good NBA player. Things like work ethic, personal confidence and belief, maturity and goal orientation cannot be measured by any combine drill or deciphered from an short interview and are usually revealed after a long weary season. It’s this reason I feel that Utah cannot miss with Enes Kanter.
Most of us are familiar with Enes and his rather mysterious basketball background, the fact that he dominated in what few games we have seen recorded, and that was later ruled ineligible to participate in NCAA basketball. What few people know or often overlook is how Kanter spent his time after being forced to sit out and not play competitive basketball for a year and how he dealt with that adversity at a rather young age.
Driving home from a rather late night at the Utah Jazz party and the best 30 dollars I ever spent on Mexican food at the Red Iguana, I was listening to late night sports personality Todd Wright going over the draft and in his first segment he highlighted Enes Kanter. He went on to tell how Kanter was one of the biggest contributing reasons for Kentucky’s run in the tournament without even stepping on the court.
Many of us probably didn’t watch Kentucky throughout the season but if you watched one of their early games you probably didn’t come away impressed by the play of Josh Harrellson, frankly coach Calipri wasn’t impressed either. After one rather putrid performance due to poor conditioning the Kansas coach was so angry he nearly tossed Harrellson from the team telling him“You are going to condition for 30 minutes before every practice and then you are going to practice, or you can quit.”
As a result Harrellson took on that challenge and as a result practiced with Enes Kanter nearly every day, and the results were remarkable. Junior DeAndre Liggins noted that “ We started calling him Enes in practice, he played like Enes.”
Harrellson game nearly transformed over the course of the season and it was easy to see by the time Calipris group bested then number 1 ranked Ohio, Harrellsons improved play, especially on Jared Sullinger, was a big reason why. Terrence Jones added “He is aggressive, he is not the same Josh, he just played different.”
While I do believe Harrellson deserves credit for taking on his coach’s challenge and improving his own game, Kanter’s willingness to practice with and improve his team mate shouldn’t go unnoticed either. Kanter throughout being ruled ineligible to play not only worked out tirelessly to maintain his body but also rarely missed practice on a team he wasn’t even eligible to play for on the court, and personally that speaks more volume to me about the type of player he can and will be.
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