Ex-Cats

Kings’ coach says Skal Labissiere was a steal with 28th pick

Sacramento Kings draft picks are introduced

Sacramento Kings draft picks Skal Labissiere, Georgios Papagiannis and Isaiah Cousins are introduced.
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Sacramento Kings draft picks Skal Labissiere, Georgios Papagiannis and Isaiah Cousins are introduced.

While Skal Labissiere had to be disappointed with his drop to the end of the first round of this year’s NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings came away thinking they were lucky to get the former University of Kentucky post player that late.

“Skal is most talented college player this year from the United States, so we’re very fortunate to have him that late (in the draft),” vice president/general manager Vlade Divac said at a news conference Monday introducing the team’s draft picks. “We thought he was going to be gone long before we had the chance (to take him).”

New Kings coach Dave Joerger, who previously coached the Memphis Grizzlies, said knows Labissiere well since the ex-Cat played in that city in high school.

“Skal’s a guy I’ve been hearing about since he was 15 years old in Memphis,” Joerger said. “I think Skal will tell you (his freshman season at UK) was maybe not what he was looking for as far as having just a knock-out-of-the-park season. We feel like we’re getting a steal there with the talent and the skills that he has.”

Joerger said he expects Labissiere will “definitely be playing a stretch position for us at the forward,” but that he’d also see time at center.

Labissiere said having fellow former Kentucky players around — DeMarcus Cousins, Willie Cauley-Stein and Rajon Rondo — will help his transition to the NBA.

“I’m very thankful I got drafted here,” he said. “I’m looking forward to learning a lot from them.”

Divac said Cousins will be counted on to help all of the team’s young post players.

“He’s going to be a coach for these young fellas, and we are very confident in that,” Divac said.

Dennis Varney: 859-231-3514, @ExCats

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