For two elite NCAA teams, Kentucky and Kansas, their potential of winning a National Championship in 2016 rests in squarely in the hands of the NCAA Clearinghouse, as stud freshmen Skal Labissiere and Cheick Diallo still haven’t been cleared for the upcoming season.
The Kentucky Wildcats feature a few returning key players like Alex Poythress, Marcus Lee, and Tyler Ulis, along with another top tier recruiting class starring Isaiah Briscoe, Jamal Murray, Charles Mathews, Isaac Humphries, as well as the nation’s #2 rated HS recruit Skal Labissiere.
“Big Skal” is a multi-talented 7 footer in the mold of previous Kentucky standout Anthony Davis, and has already been projected a s the #1 pick in next year’s NBA Draft. UK is talented as any team in the country, capable of making another run at a Final Four appearance, but they will need the game-changing Labissiere if they want to contend of a National Championship.
The biggest red flags surrounding Skal has been his guardian Gerald Hamilton, who runs a non-profit called Reach Your Dreams, but gave some shady advice to Labissiere, having him play for 3 different AAU programs and 2 different high schools in 4 years. He had Skal attempt to transfer after his Junior season but was rendered ineligible, but played for for a team called ‘Reach Your Dream Prep’, which Hamilton founded simply to ensure Labissiere had a place to play. Some collegiate teams deliberately stayed away from recruiting Labissierre because of Hamilton, who made it clear that teams wouldn’t have a shot at Skal without making a donation to his foundation.
At Kansas, head coach Bill Self returns arguably one of the deeper squads in the country featuring upperclassmen like Perry Ellis, Wayne Selden Jr, Frank Mason III, Sviat Mykhailiuk, and Brannen Green, along with star frosh like Carlton Bragg,, LaGerald Vick, and freakishly athletic forward Cheick Diallo.
The 6’9 big man won MVP honors at both the McDonald’s HS All American Game and Jordan Brand Classic, playing a frenetic, attacking brand of basketball on both ends of the floor, which he transitions between at a striking rate. He blocks shots, rebounds, rim-runs and dunks with two hands, while possessing excellent footwork within the painted area. He’s raw, but many have compared him to a Kenneth Faried type talent, with a little more potential on the offensive end.
Similar to Labissiere, Diallo is under scrutiny concerning his coursework at Our Savior New American HS in Centereach, NY, but coach Self seems positive Diallo will eventually be eligible once the investigation is concluded.
If a player or guardian did something unsavory in order to get into college, by all means take the appropriate steps at rectifying the improprieties in a timely manor, and not let things linger into the season. Some recent stud HS players that went through a similar situation include Enes Kanter, who was ruled permanently ineligible at Kentucky, and Chris Walker, who missed his entire freshman season 2 years ago at Florida.
Let’s hope the NCAA comes to a quick decision on 2 prospects that are clearly NBA caliber talent and could play a major role in deciding the 2016 NCAA National Champion……………
Allen Moll has been a lifelong NBA and NCAA College Basketball fan who watches and studies games religiously, and coaches youth basketball in his native Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania. Allen has also provided content to Bleacherreport.com, Upperdeckblog.com, Cleveland.com, CSN Philly.com, Buckets Magazine, Balltribe.com, in addition to being a tenured NBA and NCAA columnist for TheHoopDoctors.com.