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|Working Out Kanter In The Windy City|
June 6, 2011, 4:55 PM
Leading up to this year's 2011 NBA Draft on June 23rd, Enes Kanter remains one of its most mysterious prospects. A dominant performance in the 2010 Nike Hoops Summit generated a ton of buzz, but that proved to be his last major in-game competition for quite some time after the big man was declared ineligible to play for the University of Kentucky by the NCAA.
That's kept Kanter out of competitive basketball for over a year, but that seems to have done little to affect his draft stock. He had a strong showing at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago and rather than travel to various cities to work out for clubs, Kanter has remained in the Windy City and brought team reps to him at ATTACK Athletics.
On Friday, it was the Jazz (owners of the third overall pick) getting a private workout with Kanter and today, it was the Raptors' turn.
"We went out last night, we had a nice face-to-face meeting," said Raptors senior director of scouting Jim Kelly via telephone after the workout. "We met the staff, we met him, met the people that are going to be working with him. I thought that went excellent. We had a great discussion last night and followed it up with a workout today."
Obviously the Raptors' brass would have preferred to see Kanter in more of a game-type simulation ("In a perfect world we always like to see them go five-on-five for a 40-minute game," Kelly said), but if there's anything to be gleaned from Monday's session, it's that Kanter used his time away from competitive basketball wisely. He was reportedly on the floor for 75 minutes along with Raptors assistant coach Scott Roth and Kelly was highly complimentary of Kanter’s strength and conditioning.
With reports of a great motor, excellent touch around the rim and impressive range with his face-up game, Kanter could easily be viewed by the Raptors as the best player available if he's on the board at five. But the natural follow-up question is can he also address a need for this team and play centre?
Kelly said that Kanter is "probably as strong as any five in the draft right now," but was not ready to project him as a centre at the NBA level just yet.
"I wish I could tell you I have enough of a handle and experience watching him play enough [to say] exactly where that I can put him in on the floor there," he said. "I think we have the hope that he can play the five, but we really haven't seen him in enough games on this level where you can actually be really 100 per cent sure."
Like many other top-ranked prospects, the Raptors' have been keeping tabs on Kanter for several years. But Monday's workout kicks off a critical stretch of final evaluations for a draft class that boasts plenty of intriguing talent, but is also dotted with just as many question marks.
Tuesday will see the first of four scheduled workouts at ACC with highly touted guards Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker expected to attend; with reports suggesting that upwards of eight other prospects may also be present at ACC.