NCAA asks AAU coach about guardian of Kentucky’s Skal Labissiere

Skal Labissiere (USATSI)
Kentucky freshman Skal Labissiere has not been cleared to play by the NCAA. (USATSI)

The NCAA continues to actively look into allegations of possible misconduct by Kentucky freshman Skal Labissiere’s guardian, interviewing a former Memphis AAU coach just this week, CBS Sports has learned.

Jack Britton, the NCAA’s Assistant Director of Amateurism, Complex Case Review, called former Memphis AAU coach Keith Easterwood on Monday and asked a variety of questions about Labissiere’s guardian, Gerald Hamilton, whom Easterwood has known for years. Britton subsequently followed up with an email that Easterwood provided to CBS Sports.

Two of the questions Britton asked Easterwood via email are:

  • “Has Mr. Hamilton ever texted you asking for your help in finding someone that could advance Mr. Hamilton a sum of money related to Skal Labissiere?”
  • “Did Mr. Hamilton ever inquire to you about how he could procure a ‘shoe’ deal for Skal Labissiere?”

Easterwood told CBS Sports last November that Hamilton, after realizing the potential of Labissiere, once called and asked, “How can I make money off of a basketball player?”

Here’s a passage from that November story that summarizes the possible issues:

Since blossoming into what some have called a can’t-miss NBA prospect, Labissiere has attended two different high schools and played for three different summer programs, all while Hamilton worked behind the scenes to secure funds for a 501 (c) (3) foundation. Multiple coaches who have recruited Labissiere told CBSSports.com Hamilton either directly indicated or strongly suggested pursuing Labissiere would mostly be a waste of time if they couldn’t offer assistance in helping fund his foundation. One coach from a prominent staff said: “We couldn’t even get in the door.” Another added: “We recognized what it was about early on and decided not to get involved.”

Sources told CBSSports.com that college coaches — none of whom have been permitted by Hamilton to contact Labissiere directly — have expressed similar things to the NCAA, and that the NCAA is actively trying to find out how Hamilton is funding something he’s calling Reach Your Dream Prep, which is a team built around Labissiere, who needed a place to play after being ruled ineligible by the TSSAA once Hamilton inexplicably orchestrated a transfer from Evangelical Christian School (in Memphis) to Lausanne Collegiate School (in Memphis) and effectively ended any chance Labissiere had at winning a state championship and/or becoming a McDonald’s All-American.

Exactly why Hamilton moved Labissiere from ECS to Lausanne is as unclear as why he had Labissiere play for different summer programs each July. But one source summarized the questionable moves this way: “Gerald’s been shopping Skal since after his first year at ECS.”

Hamilton stopped responding to interview requests from CBS Sports more than a year ago.

Labissiere is now projected by some to be the No. 1 pick of the 2016 NBA Draft.

UK officials have consistently declined comment on Labissiere’s eligibility.

The Wildcats’ first exhibition game is in 20 days.

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