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Kentucky Lands Ineligible Recruit? Nah.

Friend of the Fizz and New York Times college sports reporter Pete Thamel (SU ’99) is reporting top-flight Kentucky recruit Enes Kanter received a salary and benefits up to $100,000 across seas and would not be eligible for college basketball.

Shocking.

In the arms race this summer for the #1 recruiting class of 2011, Syracuse and Kentucky are among the schools battling it out. Although, every school is just chasing the Wildcats. The Orange, North Carolina, Memphis, NC State and Ohio State have all hauled remarkable recruiting classes (SU’s earned a huge push with the Rakeem Christmas commit). But everyone’s been jostling for #2 on the list. Coach Cal has once again pulled in the best at nearly every position.

Will Kanter eventually be found ineligible by the NCAA? The guess is yes. Sure, it looks like his Turkish club could simply be discrediting Kanter’s eligibility to angle for a payout on his transfer to a European club. Right now the club would come up empty-handed if he enrolls at Kentucky. But the NCAA has been trying to look less like a toothless enterprise by going after USC, UConn and North Carolina in the last year.

It’s a quote from Duquesne assistant coach Rodney Crawford – who has connections to Kanter’s prep school here in the states – which is the most disturbing of all.

When asked about the role one “advisor” had in Kanter’s life, Crawford said:

“I don’t feel comfortable talking much about him. I don’t want to be talking about it. He’s his advisor. That’s a good way to put it. That’s another thing I can’t really speak on. I just took a coaching job at Duquesne; you know how the game is, I can’t afford to say anything.”

Not saying anything is usually saying everything. Need any more evidence that college athletics (and basketball specifically) is akin to the corruption and political interplay of early 20th century American crime families?

You know how the game is.

UPDATE: (9/8 11:11a)

Crawford insists his quotes were taken out of context.

“Max is a great guy and Enes is a great kid. Never in a million years would I say something negative about those guys. I just was saying he was my friend and I didnt want to talk about him to the press, he then took it and made it look negative.”

Even more upsetting however to Crawford was the second quote used by Thamel. Crawford says that while he said those words, it was about a situation completely apart from the Enes Kanter story.

“He asked me about a totally different guy that I dont want to talk about and it was something that was about a completely different situation. That quote wasnt even about Max or Kanter and he [Pete Thamel] knows that.”

I don’t really see how that abdicates Crawford. So he’s not denying any of the quotes, just the context? He’s still suggesting that as a newbie college basketball hire, there are things he can’t afford to be talking about because of the politics involved. That is much more the essence of what feels unseemly than just the direct connection to the Kenes situation. Sorry, I’m siding with the New York Times reporter here over a no-name assistant. Thamel doesn’t quite work for the Bleacher Report.

Posted: D.A.

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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