Vowing maturity, Jazz center Enes Kanter steps into spotlight

A wispy dark beard aside, not much appeared to have changed about Enes Kanter six months since he last appeared in a game for the Utah Jazz. Surrounded by children, Kanter fit right in, bouncing enthusiastically, smiling as he played shooting games and behaving like the big, fun-loving kid Jazz fans have come to know him as in the two years since the franchise made him the No. 3 overall pick in the NBA Draft.

But Kanter, who turned 21 in the offseason, said a summer of rehabbing from shoulder surgery and an anticipated spike in on-floor responsibility matured him — even though he said the beard won’t make it to Jazz training camp, which starts with Monday’s media day.

No more, he vowed, will the player who once emerged from the Jazz locker room wearing a SpongeBob SquarePants T-shirt use his popular Twitter feed to conduct a casting call for the women of Salt Lake City to join him at the Cheesecake Factory, or to disseminate photos showing off his physique. Like it or not, the Jazz’s most entertaining player seems to be growing up.

“When I was in my first two years,” Kanter said, “I was thinking I’m not going to get old, I’m just going to be like this my whole life. I was wrong. You grow up. And the stuff I put out there, rookie mistakes.”

Reported by Bill Oram of the Salt Lake Tribune