The news Big Blue Nation has eagerly awaited is finally here.
Kentucky Wildcats freshman forward Skal Labissiere has been cleared by the NCAA to play in the 2015-16 college basketball season, according to Yahoo Sports' Shams Charania and now CBS Sports' Gary Parrish.
Kentucky freshman Skal Labissiere -- projected top draft pick -- has received NCAA eligibility to play 2015-16 season, sources tell Yahoo.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 23, 2015
Skal is eligible! I guess bad news does drop on Friday afternoons…for every team other than Kentucky.— Tyler Thompson (@MrsTylerKSR) October 23, 2015
It must be pointed out that UK will neither confirm or deny that Skal is eligible until November 13, the Cats' first regular-season game against Albany.
The Wildcats have been waiting on clearance for Skal as the upcoming season inches closer, and it appears the NCAA has finally granted it one week before the team's Blue-White Scrimmage, which is quickly followed by the exhibition season.
The holdup in clearing Skal arose from his guardian, Gerald Hamilton, who reportedly talked of wanting to profit off of Skal, though that was never proven to be true. Whatever happened there, it was enough to make the NCAA take a closer look into Hamilton and if there was anything fishy going on, but it looks as though nothing happened that would compromise Skal's eligibility.
The 6-foot-11 freshman from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, was a consensus five-star recruit entering college and was even named to Blue Ribbon's Preseason All-American Squad before ever playing a game. He was ranked as the No. 1 overall center in his class by both Rivals and Scout, and many have him projected as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.
With Skal now eligible to play, he'll likely be manning the 5 spot for the Wildcats this season. He possesses the shot-blocking ability UK has often relied heavily on from their 5s under John Calipari, whether it was Anthony Davis, Nerlens Noel or Willie Cauley-Stein. Skal has the potential to be in the same class as those guys defensively, but it may be his offense that makes him unique.
There may not be a better big man at scoring in college hoops this season than Skal. That's how good he is on the offensive end. It's also a big reason why UK is tied with North Carolina for the no. 1 ranking in the preseason Top 25 Coaches Poll
Make no mistake about it: Kentucky is now a bona fide title contender now that Skal is cleared to play this season, as he'll be one of, if not the best big man in college hoops.
We also cannot confirm nor deny these are Calipari's comments on Skal being cleared: