The Kentucky Wildcats could have the preseason No. 1 ranking when the 2015-16 college basketball season opens, but they won't be the best team in the land if Skal Labissiere isn't playing.
Though there have been repeated statements of confidence by John Calipari and UK that Skal would be cleared by the NCAA to play this coming season, he apparently has not gotten said clearance yet. In an interview with ESPN, Skal's guardian, Gerald Hamilton, confirmed that the talented freshman has yet to receive clearance from the NCAA to play this year.
"Not yet," Labissiere's guardian, Gerald Hamilton, told ESPN. "We're just trying to get everything squared away. They are asking a few questions.
"They haven't cleared him, but we're sticking with our faith," he added. "There's no real concern about anything from the Kentucky compliance people."
The issue with this holdup in clearing Skal arises from his relationship with Hamilton, who reportedly talked of wanting to profit off of Skal, though that was never proven to be true. Whatever happened there, it's enough to make the NCAA take a closer look into Hamilton and if there was anything fishy going on.
Multiple sources told ESPN that the NCAA was looking into Hamilton and his relationship with Labissiere, but Hamilton declined to comment on whether that was the holdup.
Kyle Tucker of the Louisville Courier-Journal and Ben Roberts of the Lexington Herald-Leader also just put this out:
From UK spokesman: "We don't confirm eligibility of any of our student-athletes until the first game. Everyone has been practicing."— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) October 7, 2015
One note on Skal eligibility story: Getting cleared by NCAA was always going to be a last-minute thing. UK has been confident it'll happen.— Ben Roberts (@NextCats) October 7, 2015
It's not uncommon that the NCAA hasn't cleared certain freshman to play this late, but it's not a great sign either. Hopefully, the NCAA will issue some form of ruling in the coming weeks. This isn't the first time Kentucky has faced eligibility issues with an incoming freshman, and Calipari has bee adamant Skal would be good to go this season.