Moussa Cisse Recruiting Update

2021 5-star Moussa Cisse of Lausanne Collegiate School (Memphis, TN) has released his top 10, and Florida State has made the cut. Currently, Cisse is ranked as the 8th-best player in the 2021 class according to 247sports, but he seems to be the top name that is likely to reclassify to the 2020 class. If he were to reclassify, he would become the 7th-ranked player in the 2020 class, one spot behind current Florida State signee Scottie Barnes.

Moussa Cisse visited Florida State, along with current FSU commit Bryce McGowens, January 24-25 for the Notre Dame game. While he never took any official interviews following the trip, I was told he was surprised by how much he enjoyed his visit to Tallahassee. That Notre Dame game was the Blackout game and was one of the best atmospheres the Tucker Center had seen until Louisville came to town.

Here is a scouting evaluation for the 6-foot-9, 200-pound forward from 247’s Jerry Meyer:

Has a slender build with a long wingspan. Plays with energy and chip on his shoulder. Is a mobile athlete who will chase down the ball. Quality finisher around the rim. Is a tremendous rebounder. Limited in his offensive skill set at this point. Tough defender who is a top level shot blocker. First rounder on length, athleticism and energy. Must develop offensive skills to be an impact NBA player.

This is a Coach Hamilton type of player. Cisse would likely play the small-ball 5 for Florida State if he were to come, and given his strengths, he’d be an important asset. This should be a recruitment that comes down to Florida State, Memphis, and LSU.

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Complicating Cisse’s reclassification is COVID-19. According to John Martin, who covers Memphis for The Athletic, college entrance exams have been rescheduled or canceled due to the virus, which makes it tough to get the qualification he needs. While those in the know are still positive he reclassifies, it’s not a guarantee.

Coach Leonard Hamilton and his staff are apparently extremely positive on their chances with Cisse, and this explains their lack of movement in the transfer market and in recruiting. They just landed big man Quincy Ballard on Saturday, but given his rawness as a prospect and likeliness to redshirt, that shouldn’t come from a lack of confidence in landing Cisse. If anything, it should increase the fanbase’s confidence in landing Cisse, knowing Hamilton prefers to rotate three bigs.

Memphis has been the favorite from the beginning, and it makes sense. He moved from New York to Memphis last summer, following a path James Wiseman took last year. John Martin did say in his piece on The Athletic that “Some around the program are confident Cisse… will end up with the Tigers. Other people I talk to are more skeptical, noting these are much different circumstances to James Wiseman’s.” He then went on to name FSU as the biggest threat to Memphis.

As a refresher, James Wiseman was the number one overall prospect in the 2019 recruiting class who moved from Nashville to Memphis, where NBA and Memphis legend Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway was his high school coach. Wiseman came very close to signing with FSU before ultimately choosing to sign with Memphis, who is now coached by Hardaway.

The season began and Wiseman hurt his shoulder, causing him to miss some games. He came back on November 5th, and then it was announced Wiseman would be suspended for 12-games for accepting an $11,500 payment from Penny Hardaway to move to Memphis in 2017. Instead of returning after the suspension, Wiseman announced he would drop-out of school and hire an agent to prepare for the NBA draft despite playing in a total of three games.

This is purely speculation, but it is entirely possible Cisse has seen what’s happening there and doesn’t want to go there with all of the uncertainty. He’s close with a few players on the Memphis roster and has played high school ball there, but there are a lot of unknowns with what could happen to Memphis because of that payment to Wiseman.

LSU, the other perceived favorite, is in an interesting scenario given Moussa Cisse has yet to visit Baton Rouge. With the COVID-19 pandemic, Cisse won’t be able to get on campus before signing and that could play a huge part. He can take virtual visits with FaceTime and Zoom, but would that be able to overcome the experience he had in Tallahassee at a game?

LSU is also in a sticky situation when it comes to impermissible benefits; Coach Will Wade was caught on tape a few times saying he’d pay players and was suspended at the end of the 2018-19 season because of it. He would return as coach, but they are still under FBI investigation and those around college basketball are still waiting on an FBI bombshell to drop.

As of now, I’d still consider Memphis the slightest of favorites with Florida State and LSU hot on their heels. The signing period begins this Wednesday, so it’ll be interesting to see if anything transpires in the meantime.

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