6’10 Skal Labissiere has been making the transition adapting to things here in the United States. After moving to Memphis following the devastating earthquake of 2010 in Port au Prince, the 16-year old had no problems adjusting on the floor at Evangelical Christian School, but had a hard time conforming to a few of the norms that any International transplant would have.
“At first, things were kind of hard here because of the language, the food, and the environment,” Labissiere said with a giggle. It’s just really different, but things are better now.
After playing varsity as an 8th grader for ECS, Skal already has a state title under his belt. He took things to another level once he hit his freshman year, becoming the team’s go to player with averages of 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 blocks per game. While many would have placed him against peers his own age on the AAU circuit due to his slender 190-pound frame, Adidas based M33M decided that it would be best for him to play along side Austin Nichols, the best player that Skal says he has ever played against.
“Austin Nichols is so hard to defend,” he openly admitted after a tough workout. “He has a great hook shot and I am trying to learn from him by working out with him every day.
It was in his new home town of Memphis that we caught up with Skal, and witnessed trainer Charley Bass put him through a grueling hour and a half workout. Things got started off with some plyometric training in order to continually improve Skal’s coordination. Bass continued to get Skal loose by having him touch the glass with a weighted ball, run to half court while keeping the ball over his head, then repeat the process. Charley’s oversized pupil has the frame to add a substantial amount of weight, but it was clear that they were more focused with having him gradually add lean muscle as opposed to having Skal gain 20 pounds in one year, which some old-school trainers would opt to do.
Once the basketball actually came out on the floor, this was where you saw how special of a talent the Haitian import is. Labissiere started things off by shooting mid-range jumpers and shot over 75% in the process. His solid form and incredibly high release point make his shot virtually unblockable. Not stopping at 15-footers, Skal showed us that he has consistent range extending beyond the collegiate three point line. Naturally, one couldn’t help but imagine how special he could be at the next level with his ability to stretch the defense. Things just didn’t end with the gangly big man shooting the ball from 22-feet though.
Bass put Labissiere through a series of drills on the blocks that showed you both his skill and coordination. He showed a reliable jump hook with either hand, explosive leaping ability, and promising footwork for a young post player. What we weren’t able to witness in the drills was Skal’s incredible shot blocking ability, combining a 7’4 wingspan with very nice timing.
The 6th ranked player in ESPN’s terrific 25 for 2015 lived up to all of the buzz that had surrounded him in the Memphis area. Sure, he needs to get stronger and a little more consistent. However, you don’t see 6’10 sophomores who can not only shoot the ball like that, but also dominate the game defensively the way that he does. Labissiere tells us that his proudest moments as a player thus far were “winning a state title and being a finalist for Mr. Basketball,” but after watching this workout, we’ve got a feeling that list is just getting started.