Huskies get commitment from 6-foot-10 Turkish star Enes Kanter
Kanter, a 17-year-old center, is considered a possible lottery pick in 2011 NBA draft.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Spurned by Kentwood High School basketball star Joshua Smith, who signed with UCLA last week, the Huskies went to Las Vegas over the weekend and hit the jackpot.
Washington received a verbal commitment from Turkish standout Enes Kanter, who flew under the radar of most recruiting analysts but might be one of the best big men in the Class of 2010.
The 6-foot-10, 240-pound center from Stoneridge Preparatory School in Simi Valley, Calif., is one of seven centers in the class to get five stars by Scout.com (Smith is also on that list). Kanter reportedly chose UW over UCLA, USC, Indiana and UNLV.
Stoneridge coach Derryck "Tank" Thornton said Kanter picked Washington because he developed a close relationship with UW assistant coach Raphael Chillious, the former Nike executive who coached at the Jordan Brand International Game in Madison Square Garden two years ago.
"He [Kanter] liked their style of play," Thornton said. "The fact that [coach Lorenzo Romar] played in the NBA, he respected that. The players that have come out of the University of Washington and to the NBA and done well like Brandon [Roy]. All of those things. And then the stuff he found out about the school and the program. Just how good they are. What big man doesn't want to play with a great guards like Isaiah Thomas and Abdul Gaddy."
The Huskies coaches went to see Kanter in Las Vegas last weekend, which sealed his commitment.
Kanter, 17, was born in Zurich, Switzerland on May 20, 1992, and has Turkish citizenship. Last fall he made his pro debut in the Turkish Basketball League and later played in the Euroleague, which could be a point of contention for the NCAA.
Kanter was named Most Valuable Player of the 2009 U18 European Championship in Metz, France. He averaged 18.6 points and a tournament-best 16.4 rebounds, leading his team to a bronze medal.
Thornton said Kanter never received a salary while playing in Europe and doesn't anticipate any problems with his college eligibility.
Thorton said Kanter declined multimillion dollar offers to play with the Greek team Olmypiacos and with a professional team in Turkey so he could attend school in America.
He arrived in the United States this year and bounced between two different prep schools — Findlay (Nev.) Prep and Beckley (W.Va.) Mountain State — before landing at Stoneridge where he is a postgraduate student.
Thornton said Kanter, who some consider a possible first-round selection in the 2011 NBA draft, should make an immediate impact at Washington.
"Enes is just a very dominant big man," Thornton said. "We just played four games out in Vegas and he probably averaged 34, 35 [points] and about 19, 20 rebounds. He's amazing. He shoots the three. He's got NBA range. He's strong. He will finish around the rim and just knows how to play."
• Washington remains No. 14 in both polls. California dropped out of the AP poll, leaving UW as the only Pac-10 team. The Bears are No. 23 in the coaches' poll.
• UW's Quincy Pondexter, who won the Pac-10 Player of the Week award last week, was one of three players nominated this week. Washington State's Klay Thompson won the award.