LSU basketball loses out on five-star Class of 2020 center Moussa Cisse

Photo courtesy of 247Sports

Coveted basketball recruit Moussa Cisse of Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis is not leaving the city limits to play what is expected to be one season before he moves on to the NBA.

LSU was one of the 6-foot 11 Cisse’s five finalists, but he chose Wednesday to sign with the University of Memphis.

Cisse, a native of Guinea who moved to the United States in 2016, played at both St. Benedict’s Prep in New Jersey and Christ the King High School in New York before moving to Memphis last summer to attend Lausanne.

He averaged 18.4 points, 15.3 rebounds and 9.2 blocks per game, leading Lausanne to a state championship while being named Tennessee’s Mr. Basketball DII-A.

“Coach Penny Hardaway is a legend and can help me develop my game and take it to the next level,” Cisse told ESPN. “He has a lot of influence in the league.”

Hardaway, a homegrown Memphis high school and University of Memphis star who was also an All-NBA first-team guard and an Olympic gold medalist, is 43-24 in his first two years as a college head coach. He had the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class in 2019 featuring Memphis East High star James Wiseman, the nation’s No. 1 recruit.

Early into this past season, Wiseman was suspended by the NCAA which ruled Hardaway had acted as a U of M booster by facilitating Wiseman’s move fro Nashville to Memphis in 2017 to enroll at East High where Hardaway was head coach. Wiseman served part of the NCAA suspension before withdrawing from the U of M to prepare for the 2020 NBA draft.

After Wiseman’s departure, one-and-done freshman Precious Achiuwa emerged as Memphis’ best player. Achiuwa, who also in high school played at St. Benedict’s with Cisse, was an influence in Cisse signing with Memphis, according to Cisse.

Cisse is considered a green-and-growing offensive talent. Because of his 7-foot-4 wingspan and 9-foot-4 standing reach, LSU was seeking Cisse more for his rebounding and blocked shot skills.

LSU coach Will Wade enjoyed the rim protecting prowess of one-year only Oregon transfer 6-11 Kavell Bigsby-Williams (7.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game) two years ago on the Tigers’ NCAA Sweet 16 team that also won the SEC regular season championship. But this past season, LSU didn’t have anyone with the athleticism and length to fill the Bigsby-Williams role.

Even though Wade’s recruiting Class of 2020 is ranked 6th nationally by 247Sports, he’s still waiting for 6-foot 11 center Josh Gray of Putnam (Conn.) Science Academy to officially sign. Gray, a three-star prospect who averaged 9.8 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots, committed to LSU in late April but has a holdup with his academic records..

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Ron Higgins

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