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Can John Calipari pull Skal Labissiere out of Memphis?

Apr 28, 2013, 9:00 PM EDT

Skal Labissiere, Denio Chirindja AP

HAMPTON, Va. — There’s not a single recruit in the country more interesting that Skal Labissiere.

Lets start with the basics. He’s a 6-foot-9 sophomore that can run the floor and has the kind of length and athleticism that makes schools like Kentucky and Kansas very, very interested in him. Rivals currently has him ranked as the No. 6 recruit in the Class of 2015. That alone is enough to make him worth watching in each and every basketball game that he plays.

Now throw in the fact that he’s a native of Haiti whose house literally collapsed on him in the devastating earthquake that leveled the country back in 2010. As recently as last July his parents were still living in the school in which his mother was the principal.

That’s not it. Labissiere, who now lives in Mississippi just south of Memphis and plays his high school ball in the city and his AAU ball for Penny Hardaway’s team, is setting himself up to be in the middle of a recruiting battle between current Memphis head coach Josh Pastner and current Kentucky head coach John Calipari, who didn’t exactly make a lot of friends on his way out of the Tiger program.

“Memphis and Kentucky. They’re coming at me the hardest,” Labissiere said, while also mentioning Kansas and Auburn had offered him and that UCLA, Georgetown and Tennessee were showing a lot of interest.

Perhaps Coach Cal knows that he’ll have his work cut out for him pulling a player out of Memphis, because he extended an offer to Skal after seeing him play just one game, the first high school game of the season, despite the fact that Labissiere “didn’t have a great game.”

“Coach Cal told me, ‘usually we don’t offer kids that young,'” he said.

Labissiere said that he likes that Kentucky gets players to the next level, and that’s not a difficult sell when Coach Cal can claim at least two, and potentially a third, No. 1 overall picks — Marcus Camby, Nerlens Noel and Anthony Davis — that have the same build as Labissiere. But he also added that Pastner “is a really good guy” and that he enjoys the Memphis coaching staff and likes the way that the Tigers play.

“People talk about that a lot in Memphis, because not everybody in Memphis likes Coach Cal,” he said.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

  1. jthammerstix - Apr 28, 2013 at 10:29 PM

    “because not everybody in Memphis likes Coach Cal,” nobody likes him

  2. kingghidora - Apr 29, 2013 at 2:47 AM

    I like him. Not only is he the top coach in college basketball but he’s also a human being trying to make a difference. Like the way he organized a fundraiser for the people of Haiti after that very earthquake mentioned in the story. His effort raised over a million dollars for victims. Let’s see. Ticked off fans who lost their coach to the top program in basketball on one side. Coach who raised a large amount of money for the home country of the player on the other side. BTW you can count President Obama as a fan of Cal’s for his efforts to help Haiti. The president had this to say, “I just want to let you guys know that I am very, very proud of what you guys did.”

    So despite the campaign to paint Cal as a used car salesman many people see it entirely different. I’d say a lot of kids from Haiti might be among those that do like Cal.

    • kingghidora - Apr 29, 2013 at 2:59 AM

      I forgot to mention that Labissiere has expressed that he’s a fan of Cal too. The “Haitian Sensation” is quoted saying as much in this article.

      Seems like you’re wrong about no one liking Cal. I realize a lot of people are jealous of the BBN and it’s coach. Do you really think none of those millions of fans like Cal?

  3. Louisville Kentucky Mortgage - Apr 29, 2013 at 7:59 AM

    It is very tough to pull Memphis kids out of that area, but Calipari would have the greatest shot at doing it.

  4. prov1x - Apr 29, 2013 at 8:14 AM

    well, if Obama is a fan, then shouldn’t we all be fans of Cal?
    sheesh, who cares what the clown in chief thinks of the greasiest guy in sports? oh wait, they are cut from the same cloth, no wonder he likes him.

  5. waltrd - Apr 29, 2013 at 9:13 AM

    Calipari is a greedy slime bag. I hope Memphis wins out.

  6. imforbigblue - Apr 29, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    So many butt hurt haters it’s great. You know damn well you would give your left arm to have Cal coach your favorite team and pull all these studs. Have fun watching UK win ALOT next year

    • kingghidora - Apr 29, 2013 at 4:20 PM

      It is satisfying to see all that jealousy and know why it’s there. The “greedy slime bag” has one national title under his belt at UK “so far” and he’s just getting warmed up. These guys are going to be miserable for years to come. Gosh life is good sometimes. :^D

  7. bbil2012 - Apr 29, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    He already did stick it to Memphis.
    Oh yeah. UMass too.

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