Enes Kanter and Education


I am one of those fortunate to meet Enes Kanter who conducted an interview for our site in April. During my visit, I really liked this young man and naturally I have been following the Enes Kanter issue. There is one thing that makes very little sense to me and that is the comments made about Enes’s interest in Academics.

In the recent New York Times article, the Turkish Basketball Official claims that “academics were not among Enes Kanter’s strengths.”

Wait a minute?

When Enes was 10 years old, his family registered him for entrance to The Samanyolu School in Ankara, Turkey( www.samanyolu.k12.tr ). Since I have been working with Turkish education since 1993, people tell me I am an expert with Turkish Education so let me fill you in. This school is one of Turkey’s most competitive and accepts less than 1% of its applicants. For 4 of the past 5 years, the student with the highest score on the Turkish National Entrance Examination graduated from Samanyolu. When Enes was 9 years old, he like most other of this school’s applicants spent day and night cramming for its entrance examination. He passed and was admitted to this prestigious institution. I should also say the tuition for this school is 20,000+ USD that Dr. Kanter I am sure was proud to pay. If Enes wanted he could have had a more relaxed 9th year in life and Dr. Kanter didn’t have pay a cent if Enes was to study at a normal state school. Also, at the age of 10, Enes never even picked up a basketball in life. It was only when his Physical Education Teacher saw how tall Enes was getting, he said you should try basketball . Enes shot his first hoop at the age of 13.

After my meeting with Enes in April, I noticed a young man who was convinced that he was making the right decision to pursue an education. The last question I asked him was what he was to do that coming summer? He said “I am going to Lexington to start my classes and I am so excited”.

Wait a minute?

I have met over 2,000 students from Turkey and till Enes, I do not remember any new high school graduate who was willing to toss up its last summer break in favor of education. I should say that perhaps there is no better place to enjoy a summer break for a young kid than Turkey. For Enes, partying with his friends and enjoying the most beautiful beaches in the world was secondary to Education.

This past year, I met 3 Medical Students at Trakya University. I asked them who their favorite Professor was and all said Dr. Mehmet Kanter. They tell me he is a Professor of Passion who loves and treats his students as if they were his own children. His goal is to prepare his students to succeed in life and contribute to the well being of Turkey and society. Dr. Kanter is a wonderful asset to all of us.

Whatever happened to the old saying “Like father, like son”. Does that not mean anything? Peyton and Eli saw dad and was influenced, so did Michael Douglas, Enrique Iglesias and George Bush. Why is it so hard to believe that a kid may want to follow in his dad’s footsteps. Having met Enes, I am convinced that he does.

Yes, it is true that Enes is a Phenom. Everyone who follows basketball in Turkey knows this. The attention he got during his high school years in Turkey was the same that Lebron had when he played at St Vincent- St. Mary High School. Everyone knew Lebron would be special and Turks know that Enes will also likely be the best ever to come out of Turkey including current NBA standouts Hedo Turkoglu and Mehmet Okur. Lebron chose to go pro right after high school. Enes also hopes to go Pro someday, but not yet. Before he ever touched a basketball, he had a dream of getting a top notch education. Why is it so hard to believe that this young man wants to follow in his dad’s footsteps. Enes wants to be a student at University of Kentucky. To take that opportunity away from him would mean there was no meaning to his years of day and night study earning him the privlege to study in one of Turkey’s best school as a mere 9 year old. It would negate what Professor Dr. Kanter has preached to he and his 2 younger brothers.

Enes’s decision to Study in America naturally did not go well at all with everyone,but its his dream and most importantly his decision.

Tamer Turkman