STILLWATER — It’s hard to physically stand out on a Division-I basketball court, but Moussa Cisse does it.
Cisse participated in his first official practice as an Oklahoma State Cowboy on Tuesday. It’s not just that Cisse is 6-foot-10, 225 pounds of lean muscle. He is long (Boynton said he has a 7-6 wingspan), and he is athletic, throwing down a pair of thunderous dunks in the final hour of practice media was able to watch.
“Did you watch practice? He looks different,” OSU coach Mike Boynton said of what Cisse adds to the Cowboys. “He makes you look different all by himself. The thing that I’ve been most pleased with is that he’s like a sponge. The kid just wants to be coached and challenged to be his best, and we’re pretty intentional about trying to find guys who have those types of characteristics, who have that mentality and we feel fortunate that as talented as he is, he still knows he’s got a lot of room to grow. Certainly look forward to his presence as an interior presence defensively for us and as a lob threat potentially and somebody who can also be a force on the offensive end in the paint for us.”
Cisse was the latest addition to Oklahoma State’s 2021-22 squad, committing to OSU on July 15. Cisse was a five-star prospect in the 2020 recruiting class. He was the No. 10 player in that class.
He initially chose to attend Memphis out of Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis. With the Tigers as a freshman, Cisse was the American Athletic Conference’s Freshman of the Year after averaging 6.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.
Cisse entered the transfer portal last April, but did so while going through the NBA Draft process. He went through nearly the entire process, participating in the G League Elite Camp at the end of June. OSU reportedly inquired about a handful of transfer portal centers this offseason. It took a while, but Boynton eventually added one of the most highly touted of the bunch.
“He was one who we actually tracked for a long time,” Boynton said. “He went through the draft process, and like all the way through it, actually had some really good workouts. So part of his recruiting process for me, this sounds crazy, was talking to NBA guys about what they saw, when they had a chance, because we didn’t see that. We couldn’t bring him to campus still, and obviously just had to go off film from his time at Memphis. So talking to those guys about what they saw most recently during that time frame in April, May and June, was really, really pertinent for us as we tried to pursue him.”
Since coming to the United States from Guinea in Africa, Cisse has spent time in New York City and Memphis. NYC makes Memphis look small, and Memphis makes Stillwater look small. Cisse said he likes Stillwater, joking that “everything is like five minutes away.”
Boynton also pointed out that this is actually supposed to be Cisse’s freshman season. Cisse was initally supposed to graduate high school with the 2021 class, but he chose to reclassify and leave a year early. A lot of times that is done to get to the NBA as quickly as possible. Boynton said part of his messaging in recruiting Cisse was not skipping the steps and to keep “watering the grass.”
Cade Cunningham also had something to do with Cisse’s decision to be a Cowboy. Cunningham might have spent only one season in Stillwater, but his impact lingers. When Cisse decided he was going to play another season of college basketball, Oklahoma State was made all the more attractive by the fact that it had just produced the No. 1 NBA Draft pick.
“That was very attractive,” Cisse said. “That was very attractive, to be honest. Cade was texting me all the time, ‘Come to this school.’ We got a good relationship. That’s my dog. He texted me during the draft process, telling me if the NBA doesn’t work out to look at [OSU]. I take his word because I see what they did to him. It worked out good for him.”
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