Kentucky center — and potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft — Skal Labissiere has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season.
Yahoo! was first to report the news, which was then confirmed by CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish.
The 6-foot-11 Haitian was under investigation from the NCAA in connection with how his guardian, Gerald Hamilton, handled his recruitment and high school career. Particularly, Hamilton had been asking AAU coaches how he could “make money off of a basketball player,” which led the NCAA to take an extended look into what was going on with his situation. However, it’s clear that the governing collegiate body has found nothing with which to stick on Labissiere, and he will be good to go.
Labissiere is currently the No. 1 overall prospect on CBSSports’ preseason 2016 NBA Draft big board. I got a chance to scout him for a week at the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland back in April. Here’s what Kentucky fans can expect when he takes the floor for the Wildcats:
Labissiere basically did in the game what he’s done all week in practice, showing off a vast array of skills that should make him the early leader in the clubhouse to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft. He already has a really pretty midrange jumper with elevation, terrific touch on his hook shot from out to 10 feet, and a terrific motor for offensive rebounds, where he’s lethal on put-backs due to his soft hands and touch. Defensively he was also a monster today, blocking six USA shots, some of which came after he stayed with his man on the perimeter after a slash. His timing is superb on those blocks, and his length also came in handy at the end of the game where he contested both [Allonzo] Trier’s final look at the buzzer and [Luke] Kennard’s previous shot.
Overall, just an incredibly impressive week from the future Kentucky Wildcat, who should continue to blossom as his body keeps filling out and his skills continue to improve.
This is also big news for the Wildcats as a whole, as Labissiere was considered the crowning jewel of their 2015 recruiting class, which was ranked No. 1 in the country according to 247Sports’ composite score. With him, they are among the upper echelon of national title contenders this season, and they are currently ranked as the No. 2 team in the country according to the CBS Sports Top 25 (and one).
For its part, Kentucky says it does not comment on issues of eligibility until the first game is played. However, this is certainly good news for the Wildcats, whose coaches have said all along that they expected Labissiere to be eligible for their first game.