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Top center prospect Moussa Cisse picks Memphis. Is Kentucky done recruiting for 2020?

Ben Roberts, Lexington Herald-Leader on

Published in Basketball

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The college decision is in for five-star center Moussa Cisse, and it's not the choice that was expected coming into the summer.

Cisse -- a 6-foot-10 prospect from the West African nation of Guinea -- announced his commitment to Memphis on Wednesday, picking the Tigers over fellow finalists Kentucky, Florida State, Georgetown, Georgia and Louisiana State.

LSU had long been seen as a clear favorite in Cisse's recruitment, though ongoing speculation over how the NCAA will handle recruiting allegations against Tigers coach Will Wade might have played a role in Cisse pushing back his final decision until this week. Cisse announced in late May that he was reclassifying from 2021 to 2020 in order to play college basketball this coming season. Rivals.com installed him as the No. 13 player in that class, and 247Sports ranks him as the No. 11 prospect in 2020.

Cisse averaged 23.2 points, 14.2 rebounds and 8.7 blocked shots per game this past season, leading Lausanne Collegiate School to a Tennessee state title. It was his first year at the Memphis high school after moving from New York City last summer.

At the time of Cisse's reclassification decision, a college announcement was thought to be imminent and LSU was viewed as the undisputed frontrunner until just a few days ago.

Instead, he'll stay in his new home and play for coach Penny Hardaway, who assembled the nation's No. 1 recruiting class in the 2019 cycle but has struggled with top prospects in the 2020 class. Prior to Cisse's commitment, Memphis' only other pledge from a 2020 recruit came from three-star power forward Ahmad Rand.

 

The Tigers do have high-profile transfer commitments from DeAndre Williams and Landers Nolley, though neither is a lock to receive immediate eligibility to play in the 2020-21 season.

Cisse will be the star of Hardaway's incoming class.

Rivals national analyst Corey Evans told the Herald-Leader that Cisse is one of the best post defenders he has scouted in recent years.

"From a defensive playmaking standpoint, I'm not sure you can do better than him," Evans said. "He's someone that can really change the entire complexion of a game without having a single play called for him. He has that Nerlens Noel mold to him. There are questions about his offensive abilities at times, but, defensively -- his instincts, his timing, his quick leaping skills, his motor -- it's all there."

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