HOOVER, Ala. – Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury said he was less than thrilled when he heard Kentucky head coach John Calipari compare his situation in attempting to get freshman center Enes Kanter eligible this season to the current NCAA ruling that get State’s junior point guard Dee Bost his eligibility back.
Needless to say, the Stansbury made that point very clear at the Southeastern Conference media day after he missed the NBA Draft withdraw deadline of May 8.
“There’s no comparison to Dee Bost, let’s get that straight right now,” Stansbury said Thursday. “Our guy was in college, there was a changing of the rule, he never had any workouts, he is not a pro. He took his name out 12 hours after the fact with zero NBA workouts. My guy isn’t considered a pro.”
During Kentucky’s Blue Madness celebration last week, Calipari said on ESPN that he hoped the logic used in the NCAA’s decision to reinstate Bost’s eligibility on Sept. 29 would be comparable to the pending NCAA investigation on Kentucky’s 6-foot-11 center.
“I love what the NCAA did with Dee Bost,” Calipari said in a statement on his website. “Dee Bost decided to put his name in the NBA Draft; stayed in the Draft — meaning he was then a professional and could not come back and be an amateur. Yet, they looked at it and said, wait a minute, common sense says, we’re going to let him play, sit him out some games and let him play.”
The NCAA did issue State’s junior point guard a nine-game suspension when he becomes academically eligible. The suspension by the NCAA Student-Athlete Reinstatement Staff is specifically for Bost failing to properly withdraw by May 8 NBA draft deadline.
The pending decision on Kanter is based on whether he received expenses beyond what is considered necessary while playing for a club team in Turkey in 2008-09 prior to his year in an American high school. The NCAA has been made aware that Kanter, projected as a top-five pick in the June 2011 NBA draft if he declares, was paid $100,000 by this Turkish professional club team.
“The NCAA is not working against us or this young man,” Calipari reiterated Thursday at SEC Media Day. “This is a hard decision. He played for the club when he was 14, 15 and 16. They know that. They also know that with the decision they make, with (another) kid in a similar situation, (this ruling) is going to be it.”
Kanter was chosen the Most Valuable Player in the 2009 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship after averaging 18.6 points and 16.4 rebounds while leading Turkey to the bronze medal. After the championships, that same Turkish team called Fenerbahçe and Olympiacos B.C., a Greek basketball team, both offered Kanter professional contracts but to pursue the opportunity to play high school and college basketball in the United States.
Stansbury acknowledged that, like many college head coaches across the country, he is paying close attention to whether the NCAA will allow Kanter to play college basketball at all. The Bulldogs head coach also added he, a Kentucky native, is paying extra attention to it to see if the NCAA will give favorable treatment to a traditional powerhouse program like Kentucky.
“There is a lot of eyes watching this situation and a lot of coaches understanding what this situation is,” Stansbury said. “Everybody across the situation and landscape of college basketball understands what that situation was. I think everybody is probably waiting to see does Kentucky get something because (it’s) Kentucky and there’s something different that it may be at another school. I think that’s the biggest thing.”
The two schools will meet for the first time since last year’s SEC Tournament final when State travels to Rupp Arena on Feb. 15 for a 6 p.m. matchup on ESPN.