Here’s something to offset all the news about the draft: Skal Labissiere is apparently the talk of the Nike Hoop Summit up in Portland, Oregon. Twitter is abuzz with praise for Skal and yesterday, he measured 7′ tall with a 7’1.5″ wingspan. Sheesh. CBS Sports’ Sam Vecenie has a nice wrap-up of Skal in which he says “nothing about him has disappointed so far.”
The Kentucky recruit basically dominated from the beginning to the end of practice on Tuesday, outplaying another potential 2016 top-10 pick in Thon Maker by a considerable margin in their matchup. His fluid athleticism is readily apparent at every turn, whether it be on defense where he contested just about every single Maker shot on the perimeter, or on offense where he was terrific in the pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop, as he has terrific instinctual awareness of where to find the soft spot in the defense. He already has an incredibly soft touch, and his range seems to have increased out to the college 3-point line (he attempted a couple of NBA level 3s, but they didn’t look as comfortable mechanically). He was the best player on the floor Tuesday, and I was told it was a similar story on Monday by others. Like everyone here, he still has a way’s to go, but it wouldn’t shock me if he ended up as the No. 1 recruit in the 2015 high school class.
Skal’s performances this week moved him up to #1 in the Draft Express 2016 Mock Draft, ahead of Jaylen Brown, Ben Simmons, Diamond Stone, and Malik Newman. Draft Express’ Mike Schmitz is in Portland and explains why:
The Kentucky-bound 7-footer and #1 prospect in our 2016 Mock Draft turned heads as soon as the ball rolled out on Monday afternoon with his size, developing body, athleticism and smooth shooting stroke. The Haitian big man gave NBA scouts and executives a glimpse of his monster potential in the 5-on-5 sessions on Tuesday. Labissiere showcased his rare blend of size, athleticism and shooting ability by making plays at the rim on both ends, while knocking down a post turnaround over Maker’s 7-3 wingspan and drilling a pick and pop jumper with his smooth, high release. Labissiere wasn’t perfect, but his potential as a two-way, versatile big man who can score inside and out was most certainly on display. The 7-foot, 216-pound athlete figures to be a handful for Team USA on both ends of the floor.
Isaiah Briscoe, Tai Wynyard, and all of UK’s remaining targets also play in the Hoop Summit, which takes place at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can watch it on ESPN2.
All of this makes me feel a lot better about next year.