Utah Jazz draft pick Enes Kanter will play for Turkey in EuroBasket tournament
SALT LAKE CITY — It appears the Turkish national basketball team will benefit from the ongoing NBA lockout.
New Utah Jazz center Enes Kanter has agreed to play for his national team this summer and will represent Turkey at the upcoming EuroBasket tournament in Lithuania, according to eurobasket2011.org.
However, Kanter's teammate and fellow compatriot, Jazz center Mehmet Okur, will not play for Turkey this summer while he continues to rehab the back and Achilles issues that plagued him last season.
Turkish basketball federation president Turgay Demirel confirmed that his country's rising star and third overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft will join that nation's top squad.
"He has been a good player for our junior program — for our junior national team he played very well," Demirel told the website of the 19-year-old big man. "I think in the EuroBasket he will help the team."
Demirel also pointed out that Okur was not participating because of his injuries, not because of the NBA lockout.
Kanter's father, Dr. Mehmet Kanter, told the Sporting News earlier this year that the basketball player turned down an invitation to play for Turkey in last summer's world championship so he wouldn't miss the first month of classes at the University of Kentucky.
Kanter was later ruled ineligible by the NCAA for allegedly receiving extra benefits from a Turkish team he'd previously played for before moving to the U.S. in 2009.
In 2009, Kanter earned MVP honors (186 ppg, 16.4 rpg) while leading Turkey to a third-place finish at the FIBA Europe Under-19 Championship.
Turkey won a silver medal while hosting the 2010 FIBA World Championship. The Turks will face Spain, Lithuania and Great Britain, amo, ng others, in Group A of the 24-team tournament.