By LARRY VAUGHT
Now that Kentucky failed to land Purdue graduate transfer Matt Haarms to fill the void at center it has on the 2020-21 roster, one name that keeps being mentioned as a possible solution is 6-11 Moussa Cisse of Lausanne Collegiate School of Memphis.
He’s currently a top 10 player in the 2021 recruiting class but several national recruiting analyst keep anticipating he will reclassify. His coach, Marvin Davis, still doesn’t expect that to happen even though his star player averaged 22.5 points, 14 rebounds and 8.6 blocks per game last year and had 16 triple-doubles to earn Mr. Basketball honors in Tennessee.
He just trimmed his potential college list from 10 to six and UK is on that list along with Florida State, Georgetown, Georgia, LSU and Memphis. He eliminated Alabama, Illinois, Tennessee and USC.
Davis readily admits Cisse made dramatic improvement in his first year with Lausanne Collegiate.
“As the year went on his confidence started thriving. When he first got to us most people thought of him just as a defensive player and a guy who could maybe get a dunk or two,” Davis said. “He did make a significant impact on defense but offensively he got so much better and so much more polished.
“He also plays with such passion and heart. He plays hard, too. He wants to get better. He is a super competitor and wants to win every thing he does. That is what drives him daily.”
Kentucky coach John Calipari came to watch Cisse play at the Marshall County Hoopfest in December to make sure he knew he was wanted at UK either this year or next year. Several national recruiting analysts continue to believe he will reclassify.
“Cal likes him a lot,” Davis said. “His footwork around the rim got so much better as our season went on. Early on some moves he tried to make he would travel. He was always light on his feet but he was just not sure when to make moves and turns and how to finish them. Now his footwork is better and he can make all t he moves.
“He can shoot the 3. If you are on him, he can shoot over you. If you sag off and let him have the 3-pointer, he can make it. His free throws got a lot better, too. He ended up above 70 percent (at the foul line) and for him to hit that percentage bodes well for the future because he’ll get fouled a lot. This way teams can’t just hack him and send him to the line.”
Cisse benefitted from a similar practice approach at Lausanne Collegiate to what colleges do with a lot of individual work daily because Davis has enough assistant coaches to do that.
“We do an individual period each day of 20 minutes or more just working on specific stuff a player needs to improve,” Davis said. “Moussa would go with our bigs coach and work on his individual needs. Now while we legitimately work on a lot of stuff each day, he still also put in a lot of time in the gym by himself. He’s a gym rat and that’s why you know he’s just going to keep getting better.”
Davis says as driven as Cisse is, he maintains the proper perspective.
“Some guys play with too much of a chip on their shoulder and can get out of control,” Davis said. “He is not like that. He plays so hard and is so passionate, but he’s under control and he will still have fun playing. He just has a great overall attitude”
Davis believes social media speculation has fueled rumors about Cisse reclassifying and playing college basketball next season.
“I sincerely doubt he will be going to college next year. I obviously talk to him and his family a lot and they are not saying that to me,” Davis said. “I think it is kind of late in the game for Moussa to be jumping to the 2020 class. If he was going to do it, he probably should have already done it. You can’t wait until the last minute to get everything done. I could be wrong but I just don’t see him playing in college next year.”