A top prospect in the 2016 NBA draft is coming to Sacramento after one year at Kentucky. The Kings are excited about Skal Labissiere’s upside in addition to his physical abilities. Here’s more information about the 7-foot-tall native of Haiti.
1. Labissiere Is a Multitalented 7-Footer
The former Kentucky center combines his height with a 7-foot-2 wingspan and a 9-foot standing reach. He’s also noted for his ability to get up and down the court, especially for someone his size. His lengthy frame also seems to allow him to bulk out with a more muscular build in the future. Complimenting that is a refined shooting form and good range on his jump shot, adding another weapon to his intimidating physical presence.
Conversely, he’s been criticized for his lack of aggression. Some scouts believe he’ll need to develop more of a killer instinct, and that’s part of why he struggled in his one season in Kentucky.
2. Grew Up in Haiti and Survived the 2010 Earthquake
At age 14, Labissiere survived the 2010 Haitian Earthquake. Living in the capital city of Port-Au-Prince, Labissiere was trapped, along with his mother and brother, by debris from his collapsed house for over three hours. He thought he might die while trapped.
All three survived, though Skal’s legs went numb from the pressure of the ruble. He wasn’t able to walk for two months after the earthquake.
3. Moved to the U.S. Where he was Playing Varsity Basketball by 8th grade
Labissiere came to the United States not long after the quake. He lived in Memphis with Gerald Hamilton of the Reach Your Dream Foundation, an organization that brought top international basketball prospects to the U.S. He went to Evangelical Christian School, where he was playing varsity by eighth grade. He transferred to Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis for his senior year, but was ruled ineligible by the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Associate because of the move. Instead he played for Hamilton’s Reach Your Dream Prep Academy team, averaging 26 points, 12 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game.
4. He Choose Kentucky Early, Over Many Other Offers
Despite his atypical route through school, Labissiere emerged as the No. 1 prospect in the class of 2015. Despite offers from nearly every major basketball program, Labissiere said it was an easy choice picking Kentucky, announcing his decision on Nov. 13, 2014 to play for the Wildcats and head coach John Calipari. Labissiere was the first player in the Class of 2015 offered a scholarship by Calipari. His signing was the highlight of another top-ranked recruiting class.
“”I thought that (Calipari) was the only person who had the same mindset as me,” Labissiere said when asked about why he picked Kentucky. “He is about working, winning, helping players look good and preparing them for the next level. It is a players program and I really connected with him.” Labissiere also liked how Calapari had success with other big men including NBA players Nerlens Noel, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
5. Labissiere Struggled at UK, but Was Still a Top Prospect
Not surprisingly, Labissiere came into Lexington with huge expectations. He drew comparisons to Davis and, like Davis, was projected to be a No. 1 overall pick. But Labissiere couldn’t get much playing time on the court. He averaged 15.8 minutes per game for the season, averaging 6.6 points and 3.1 rebounds per game, respectively.
Despite the struggles with the Wildcats, Labissiere was still expected to be a first round pick due to his size and natural talents.