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Utah Jazz select Enes Kanter with third pick

Published: Thursday, June 23 2011 11:38 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Most of the Utah Jazz fans who were in attendance Thursday evening got their wish in the 2011 NBA Draft.

But all those Jimmer fans sure didn't.

Much to the approval of a large, vocal crowd at EnergySolutions Arena, Utah selected fan favorite Enes Kanter, a 6-foot-11, 260-pound center from Turkey, with the third pick in Thursday night's annual draft.

But after Jimmer Fredette, the former BYU star turned national phenomenon, was taken with the 10th pick by Milwaukee, which sent the Cougars' favorite son and folk hero to the Sacramento Kings in a three-team, draft-day deal, the Jazz took ex-Colorado shooting guard Alec Burks with the 12th pick.

Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor seemed pretty pleased with Utah's two first-round picks, who are both still teenagers.

"I like the fact that we got some size and I like the fact that I think both kids can get better," O'Connor said. "There's a ceiling that's pretty high for both kids, and that's a fact that we like.

"We drafted two 19-year-olds. I think the key thing is we've added a couple more pieces that can mesh with what we've got...We always think it's a success, but we're going to find out.

"We think we got two character guys, especially Kanter, that have a high motor and are willing to work," he said. "Both of them improved a great deal over the course of their last couple of years."

Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin felt much the same way as the Jazz GM, and in sizing up the two newest members of his team, he said Kanter and Burks could possibly earn themselves some playing time this coming season — that is, if the NBA can come up with a new collective bargaining agreement and doesn't wind up with a lockout.

"These guys are going to have to come up to speed pretty quick," Corbin said, "and I think these young guys are talented enough to push the veteran guys in front of them for some minutes on the floor. And we're going to have some pretty exciting practices because of it.

"They're talented kids, and hopefully their talent can shine and they won't get too discouraged and they'll have some success so they can stay on the floor."

O'Connor sized up Kanter as a big kid that's a hard worker who is only going to get better with age.

"If you were looking at (Kanter) as a football player, he's a north-south guy," O'Connor said. "He's not going to dazzle you with footwork, but he's going to try to run over you. And he gives us some length. Is he leaper and a shot-blocker? No. But... he gives Coach Corbin some options.

"Again, you've got to remember and temper it — he's 19 years old and he didn't play last year (after being ruled ineligible by the NCAA). But he's a willing worker, and I think that's the key. Here's a kid that didn't play last year and had a 5.9 percent body fat and did as good as anybody on the treadmill.

"He wants to be good, he wants to get better. All of us do, but he's willing to do it," he said. "Everywhere he's played, he's rebounded, even when he played in one of the best leagues over in Europe at 17 years of age, he rebounded the ball. And normally that translates into going into the pros."

Asked what he likes most about Kanter's game and potential, O'Connor continually praised the young man's work ethique.

"His size and his motor," the Jazz GM said. "Again, he's a willing worker. He's gonna get better every day. You get a big guy that will run the floor and work like he does, you'll be successful. ... He's a little bit of a bull in a China shop, in a good way."

After being taken by the Jazz, Kanter seemed to be taken with the Jazz, too — as in extremely glad to be coming to the Beehive State.

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