HAMPTON, Va. — John Calipari has seen a lot of recruits from the class of 2015 over the past few months. He has offered only one of them a scholarship.
Haitian big man Skal Labissiere — who received Calipari’s after one viewing last fall — said Saturday that UK and Memphis are the two schools “standing out” in the early stages of his recruitment.
The 6-foot-10 post player moved to Memphis after his home country was devastated by an earthquake in 2010. Six months after his first meeting with the UK coach, Labissiere is still surprised that Calipari offered him a scholarship so soon.
“When I heard it, I couldn’t say a thing because I was shocked,” he said. “He told me that I had the potential to be great.”
Since that first encounter, UK has stayed in regular contact. Calipari has been a mainstay in the bleachers at Labissiere’s EYBL games this weekend, and Labissiere said his guardian, Gerald Hamilton, talks to Calipari on the phone “a good bit.”
Rivals.com considers Labissiere the No. 6 overall player in the class of 2015. Calipari’s expectations might be even higher. The UK coach has mentioned three of his former players when discussing Labissiere’s possible future at Kentucky.
“He brought up Marcus Camby, Nerlens Noel, Anthony Davis,” Labissiere said.
The big Haitian still has a long way to go before he hits those heights. His game shows versatility — a 6-10 player who can run the floor and shoot from outside — but he acknowledges that he needs to work on getting stronger and refining his moves in the post.
Of course, he still has two years of high school to make those improvements. And, six months after receiving that offer from UK, he’s still the only player in his class to hold that distinction.
“It’s an honor,” he said. “Coach Cal told me that too. He said, ‘Usually we don’t offer kids that young.’ But he did for me. So that’s a real honor.”