For the second straight year, the University of Kentucky figured prominently in an NBA Draft. Only in comparison to last year's unprecedented five first-round picks would two players taken among the first eight Thursday night seem less than extraordinary.
Enes Kanter, the would-be UK player who never got the chance to play college basketball after being ruled permanently ineligible by the NCAA, was taken by the Utah Jazz with the third pick in the 2011 draft.
By contrast to the widespread speculation that Kanter would be picked third, former UK point guard Brandon Knight slipped to the eighth pick when he was taken by the Detroit Pistons.
Kanter joins Shawn Kemp as the greatest players to commit to UK but never play for the Cats. The NCAA ended UK's drawn-out attempt to add Kanter by ruling him permanently ineligible because he received excessive compensation while playing for a professional team in his native Turkey.
The ruling made Kanter something of an unknown to U.S. basketball fans. On a teleconference earlier this month, ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla referred to Kanter as "Big Foot" and noted that there had been no more than "a couple sightings" of the big man.
After being taken by Utah, Kanter said he would dedicate his rookie season to UK fans because of their support typified by the "Free Enes" slogan this past season.
"Wow," Calipari tweeted. "... It really shows how much he loves the Big Blue Nation by dedicating his rookie season to them."
In a Skype interview with the media in Utah, Kanter said he would bring the Jazz "toughness and post moves, rebounding, everything."
Kanter noted that another native of Turkey, Mehmet Okur, played for the Jazz. "I have family there," he said. "Like Mehmet Okur plays there too, so it's kind of like my family. So I was very happy."
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