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Five-star Kentucky commit believes the NCAA will clear him to play


Kelly Kline/Under Armour

Much has been made about the eligibility of Class of 2015 Kentucky commit and five-star big man Skal Labissiere. The 2014-15 high school basketball season saw a lot of speculation about whether Labissiere, who some consider the best overall long-term prospect in the class, would be able to play college basketball after some strange happenings with his American guardian, Gerald Hamilton.

In November, there was a report from Gary Parrish of that Hamilton was attempting to profit off of Labissiere including asking one local Memphis AAU coach, “How can I make money off of a basketball player?”

There were also the questions surrounding Hamilton putting Labissiere on Reach Your Dream Prep, a team created, speficially, to make sure Labissiere played his senior season and potentially made the McDonald’s All-American Game. While McDonald’s didn’t take Skal in its game, the NCAA came inquiring about all of the commotion surrounding Labissiere’s new prep school.

On Friday, Labissiere spoke out directly on the NCAA matter in a story with Kyle Tucker of the Courier-Journal.

“I’ll be able to play right away,” Labissiere said to Tucker. “The NCAA is going to clear me and I’ll be able to play right away.”

In December, Hamilton told Steve Jones of the Courier-Journal that the NCAA was indeed looking into matters with Labissiere.

“Oh, yeah, they have investigated,” Hamilton said of the NCAA. “Of course, they hear all the rumors – and that’s what they are, rumors – going out about me, and they have a right to do their job. Unfortunately, a lot of the stuff that went out about me, a lot of people don’t even know me. I don’t know how they got the information. But they’re doing their job, and we’re doing our job. We don’t have anything to hide.”

While the NCAA has yet to officially say anything on Labissiere -- or clear him at Kentucky -- the Haitian big man saying that he’s going to get cleared is an interesting development. Sometimes, it’s difficult to take a kid’s word in this situation, but at this point, it’s really all we have to go by.

It’ll be intriguing to see if anything comes of the alleged NCAA investigation into Hamilton and Labissiere. Either way, Kentucky needs its new five-star big man in a major way next season after losing seven players to the 2015 NBA Draft.

While many consider the race for the No. 1 spot in the 2015 class to be between LSU commit Ben Simmons and Georgia native Jaylen Brown, Labissiere is generating a lot of long-term buzz after his week at the Jordan Brand Classic. Draft Express currently rates Labissiere as the No. 1 pick in its 2016 NBA mock draft.