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NBA Draft Prospect Preview: Skal Labissiere, the Next Great NBA Wildcat?

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Considered by many to have #1 potential before the college hoops season kicked off, whoever Skal slides to could be getting the best talent in the Draft.

Skal Labissiere

University of Kentucky (FR) - 6-11 - 225 lbs - born 1996 (Age 20)

15.8 MPG - 6.6 PPG - 3.1 RPG - 1.6 BLK - 51.6% FG

Complete stat breakdown

Skal Labissiere arrived at Kentucky after a long and complicated journey from Haiti as the next NBA-ready Wildcat big man who would chase an NCAA Title in his one-and-done season.

The season that was didn't exactly go as planned.

Labissiere started strong in the non-conference schedule with a few highlight heavy performances against low-major opponents, but struggled mightily when he tried to adjust to conference play. By mid-season he had fallen out of favour with Kentucky fans and Coach Cal, losing minutes to Marcus Lee and even Derek Willis. That being said, he did end the season on a high note earning SEC Freshman of the week honours after near double-double performances against LSU and Florida, and registered 12 points with six blocks in the team's tourney win over Stony Brook.

All that being said, he still has a chance to be a top five prospect in this draft due to his athleticism and raw tools. The measurables are a scout's dream, and he has the speed to fit the modern mould of the ideal NBA big man, who can run the floor, hit jump shots out of the pick and pop (and eventually the NBA 3) and protect the rim on the defensive end.

Of course whichever team drafts Labissiere will need to invest a lot of time into him, as he's far from ready to contribute meaningful minutes on a contending NBA team right now. He lacks the muscle to adequately defend 4's and 5's in the post, doesn't have much ability as a passer, and needs to build up his mental and physical toughness to consistently hang with the men he'll be facing in the league.

Mock Draft Position

Yahoo Sports 11
NBADraft.net 11
CBS Sports 11
DraftExpress 11

Well, looks like the Magic are drafting Labissiere at 11.

The Fit

Labissiere probably profiles as a power forward long term, in the mould of a Nerlens Noel with a little more offensive polish. We know the Raps need for a four long term, and if Patrick Patterson remains more comfortable as a career reserve, Skal could eventually be the mobile and rangy defender the Raps covet alongside Jonas Valanciunas, while adding offence in the mid range and around the rim.

The Verdict

I'd be okay with it. Although the Raptors already have a project in Bruno Caboclo and a quasi-project with Bebe Nogueira in the front court, Labissiere's jump shot could be the swing factor in him eventually earning playing time over a Nogueira. If he filled out his body and made strides defensively, his ceiling could be a Serge Ibaka-lite that every Raptors blogger so covets for this franchise to acquire.