Labissiere latest UK player to enter name in NBA Draft


Forward Skal Labissiere high fives young fans after the Wildcat’s game against the Stony Brook Seawolves during the first round of the NCCA tournament at Well’s Fargo Arena on March 16, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. Photo by Taylor Pence

Anthony Crawford

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The latest domino to fall for UK basketball was revealed today with freshman Skal Labissiere announcing he will declare for the NBA draft.

“I want to thank my family, my coaches, teammates and most importantly I want to thank God for the opportunity that he gave me to represent and play for the University of Kentucky,” Labissiere said. “I also want to thank the fans for their support through everything this season. I am excited to announce that I am entering the 2016 NBA Draft.”

The forward from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, averaged 6.6 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in his lone season for the Cats.

After entering the season as a consensus top-2 pick in the NBA Draft, Labissiere struggled to adjust to the college game early on.

“On the basketball court, it took him and our staff a while to figure out how to best utilize him, but his improvement on that court over the year is why he is in this position to put his name in the draft and be projected in the middle of the lottery,” head coach John Calipari said.

He was able to turn it around to close out the season and contribute some impressive outings such as the 18-point, nine-rebound, six-block game he turned in to close the regular season at home against LSU.

Labissiere was part of a Cats team that finished the season at 27-9 before winning a share of the SEC regular season title and SEC Tournament Championship.

The freshman helped lead UK to a win in the opening round against Stony Brook, turning in 12 points to go along with six blocks, which tied for second most in an NCAA Tournament game in school history.

Labissiere joins fellow freshman Jamal Murray as the only two players on the team to officially enter their names, not including senior Alex Poythress who is also eligible for the draft.

Murray stated that he had not hired an agent when he announced last Friday but was likely to keep his name in the draft. Labissiere released that he plans to hire an agent which will mean that both of their careers at UK are effectively over.

Murray and Labissiere make up two of the three Cats projected to go in the first round of most mock drafts, with the other being sophomore Tyler Ulis.

The NBA Draft is set for June 23 and with Labissiere’s announcement, UK will have a chance to build on its already impressive 25 draft picks in the last six years, including 19 first-rounders.

“His future is out ahead of him and I think in time he will be in the same breath as all of our big guys who have performed well in the NBA,” Calipari said.