PADUCAH, Ky. – Skal Labissiere isn’t doing much winning during his senior year of high school basketball, but one of his coaches believes the University of Kentucky signee has made gains even as his team has lost.
Labissiere had 25 points, 17 rebounds and five blocked shots Saturday for his Memphis-based Reach Your Dream Prep team in a 72-62 loss to Faith Baptist of Georgia at the McCracken County Mustang Madness Showcase.
After two trips to Kentucky, two to Texas, one to Arkansas and one to Mississippi, RYD is now 2-14, including several games being severely overmatched by top-level prep schools. RYD is a team formed by Labissiere’s guardian, Gerald Hamilton, to give him somewhere to play his senior year after, as a transfer, he was ruled ineligible to play at the school he attends, Lausanne Collegiate.
The 6-foot-11 Labissiere, the nation’s No. 3 senior, according to Scout.com, does it all for a team with otherwise very average players from around Memphis who tried out. The team hasn’t kept official season stats, but Labissiere’s estimated averages are 25 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks per game.
“I think he’s become more vocal as a leader definitely,” said RYD coach Verties Sails III, who has Hamilton on the bench with him. “He’s obviously our most talented guy, but he’s also had to be the one who’s had to step up and show the other guys how to do the right things. I think that’s something he may not have been as comfortable doing at first. But he’s realized he has to do that.”
Labissiere skies over his teammates, most of whom are no taller than 6 feet, and he draws two, three, even four defenders on every possession.
Sails said Labissiere, who has gained about 15 pounds since last year and weighs about 210, has also learned to play better through contact, pass better and how to score against other tall, college-bound post players.
“His ball-handling has also improved out of necessity because we need him to help us handle the ball,” said Sails.
Sails said Labissiere wakes up at 4 a.m. to get in early workouts, and Labissiere has said he tries to mold his game into a blend of attributes of some of the game’s best players.
UK coach John Calipari has said Labissiere’s perimeter skills and height are reminiscent of Anthony Davis. Labissiere said last month that was a flattering comparison, “but I’m far away from being like him obviously.”
He said he also tries to emulate Carmelo Anthony, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki and even Hakeem Olajuwon, thanks to watching old Houston Rockets games on NBATV.
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