Enes Kanter Out, Wildcats Have to Find a Way to Fill the Void

Mike HendersonCorrespondent IINovember 11, 2010

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 14:  The Wildcat, mascot for the Kentucky Wildcats waves a giant UK flag as he performs against the Mississippi State Bulldogs during the final of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at the Bridgestone Arena on March 14, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The SEC title hopes of the Kentucky Wildcats took a major hit today when Enes Kanter was ruled ineligible for receiving extra benefits from a professional team in Turkey.

It was reported that the NCAA ruled he received $33,000 in "extra" benefits, taking advantage of playing professional basketball and thus nullifying his amateur status.

The Wildcats will most certainly appeal, but only to the extent that Kanter remains interested in staying there, which won't be beyond this season. He has been projected as a lottery pick for next season's NBA draft in some circles and it likely won't be in his best interests to sit out the entire season just to play one at Kentucky.

With Tennessee looking like a train wreck in an exhibition loss earlier this week, the Florida Gators, already favored by many to take the SEC East, become a much more solid favorite. What this also means is that Georgia and Vanderbilt could make things very interesting in the race for NCAA positioning.

Personally, I won't count the Wildcats out. They still have exceptional talent, and regardless of what many think, Calipari can coach. Match-ups may be an issue defensively, but conversely, they may have five very quick players on the floor that causes issues for the other team as well.

The "Free Enes" campaign at UK obviously went for naught, but the lack of precedent for this type of situation may mean that the story is not over. But 'Cats fans, players and coaches at least now know where they are and how they need to proceed.