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As expected, Kentucky freshman Skal Labissiere declares for NBA draft

Skal Labissiere

Kentucky’s Skal Labissiere reacts after dunking the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Arkansas, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in Fayetteville, Ark. Kentucky won 80-66. (AP Photo/Samantha Baker)


A year ago this time, Skal Labissiere was mentioned with Ben Simmons as the top prospects likely to enter the 2016 draft.

Both men are entering that draft. Simmons expected to go in the top two (mostly likely No. 1), while a rough start to the season at Kentucky saw Labissiere — projected as a four or five at the next level — slide down draft boards to the 10-15 range, and he is another big in this draft considered a bit of a project.

That didn’t change the big picture, Labissiere is coming out, something he announced Tuesday officially. He plans to sign with an agent, which means no changing his mind and returning to Kentucky.

“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 in a released statement. “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.”

As he does with all his guys going pro, coach John Calipari tried to pump up Labissiere on Twitter.

It’s not hard to see what scouts like in Labissiere — he’s long, with a good shooting stroke, and he can score inside. But the season at Kentucky raised some questions as PBT’s NBA Draft expert — and Rotoworld writer — Ed Isaacson explains.

“At 6’11”, with a 7’2” wingspan, Labissiere is long and lanky, and he does possess a nice shooting touch out to 20 feet. Around the basket, his touch can be evident, but his moves are slow to develop, and he shows little aggression or determination to get to the basket. Labissiere is awkward in the pick-and-roll, though his shooting ability allows him to be a good “pop” option. His size and length should give him some advantages on the offensive glass, but he has been too timid this year and gets pushed around easily. On defense, Labissiere has a lot of potential, but he is nowhere close to realizing it yet. It was expected that Labissiere was going to be very raw coming into college, and even with it being worse than expected, NBA teams will still be intrigued by his raw talent.