Syracuse, N.Y. — NBA veteran Enes Kanter, the likely starting center for the Boston Celtics next year, will be offering a free camp to Central New York kids at Manlius Pebble Hill on Saturday morning.
Kanter’s camp will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday at Manlius Pebble Hill, which is located at 5300 Jamesville Road. Kanter will hold a meet-and-greet afterward for about an hour. The camp is open to kids between 8 and 18 years old.
The camp sprung up at the last minute, according to local basketball trainer Peter Dourdas, who helped Kanter set up the logistics.
Dourdas said that he got a call from Kanter’s agent on Monday, indicating that the basketball star was going to be in the area talking to legislators and that Kanter likes to offer free camps for kids whenever he travels.
Dourdas, who also coaches the Manlius Pebble Hill modified basketball team and coached the Syracuse Stallions last year, said he contacted MPH athletic director Jim Ryan, who donated the use of the gym.
“It’s just a really cool thing for the kids,” Dourdas said. “A lot of them might never have had the chance to meet, or to work with, an NBA player. He was the No. 3 pick (in the 2011 Draft).”
Dourdas said he is unsure how many kids will be attending and he’s put out the call to players he’s worked with in order to try to find an appropriate number of coaches.
Kanter has been a prominent critic of Turkish President Recap Tayyip Erdogan and his increasingly authoritarian policies. At one point the Turkish government said it hoped to impose a four-year prison sentence because Kanter insulted Erdogan on Twitter.
His issues with the Turkish government have reached a point that Kanter feels as if he can’t risk leaving the United States. Kanter announced in May that he would make good use of his time in the United States and intended to hold 30 camps for kids in 30 different states.
Dourdas said Kanter is known for buying as many as 70 pizzas in order to feed the kids that participate.
The CNY Rise Center is also promoting a coffee night with Kanter on its Facebook page for Saturday night. The event is scheduled for 5 p.m. and indicates Kanter will talk about basketball, his struggles with the Turkish government, speaking out against human rights violations, fasting during the Western Conference finals and his camps. The event is open to the public.
According to its website, The CNY RISE Center was established by volunteers of the former Turkish Cultural Center Syracuse and seeks to build relationships within communities via educational programs, interfaith events, cultural and religious programs, and collaborative initiatives.
Kanter has played eight seasons in the NBA with four teams. He split time last year between the New York Knicks and Portland Trail Blazers, averaging 13.7 points. He signed with Boston this offseason.