After landing Moussa Cisse, the Memphis Tigers have gotten better a year after losing key pieces
Wednesday afternoon, Five-Star big man Moussa Cisse announced that he would head to Memphis to play for the Tigers for this upcoming season. Cisse is a 6’10” big man that attended high school in Memphis. Cisse recently reclassified to the 2020 graduating class and was ranked as a Top-10 player in the 247Sports recruiting rankings.
The Tigers were one of the most disappointing teams this past season, they landed five-star recruits in James Wiseman and Precious Achiuwa, As well as 4-Star guys like Boogie Ellis, D.J. Jeffries, and Lester Quinones. They won 20 games but they were projected to miss the NCAA Tournament when the season ended. The season was in question early-on, after one game 5-Star Big-Man, and #1 recruit James Wiseman was ruled ineligible by the NCAA, due to being given what was deemed improper benefits. This came because in High School the Wiseman family received $12,500 Dollars from then East High School head coach, Penny Hardaway. The money was given so Wiseman and his family can move to Memphis so Wiseman can play for Hardaway’s High School team. Obviously, Hardaway then became Memphis Head Coach, Wiseman also went to Memphis and that caused issues.
An hour before Memphis played UIC Wiseman was ruled ineligible. The logical thing to do is sit him, it goes without saying because you can appeal it, which they did and you probably won’t win it, which they didn’t. So they played Wiseman in a 40+ point win against UIC, and then against Oregon in a loss before Wiseman was ruled ineligible for 12 games. A few weeks after that news Wiseman left the team to prepare for the draft ending his College Career.
From there the season crumbled, Precious Achiuwa had an outstanding season as he averaged 15.8 points and 10.8 rebounds per game but the rest of the team had major struggles. DJ Jeffries and Lester Quinones were solid, both averaging averaging over 10 points per game. The main issue was in the backcourt where the team struggled playing with freshmen guards Boogie Ellis and Damion Baugh.
I’m sure people think the Tigers will have another down season and I have seen many people have them 3rd in their American rankings, I think that’s incredibly wrong. They land 5-Star Big-Man Moussa Cisse they are now not only the best team in the American, a Top-25 team who has potential to make a deep Tournament run. A big issue is that it is hard to win with so many Freshman in the lineup, especially at guard positions. This season they are far more experienced and they will less public shenanigins going on without the Wiseman situation. While the NCAA is still looking into the program, they’ll deal with any punishments after this season. They return Lester Quinones, who I think will have a huge season. Boogie Ellis was a highly-touted combo guard, although he struggled last season but another season in the sport should be beneficial to him. Alex Lomax and Damion Baugh two more very good guards who both can run the point. They also return bigs in Lance Thomas and Malcolm Dandridge who were decent last season but will likely be relegated to bench roles this season. Now let’s fully-dive into the roster
PG: Boogie Ellis
SG: Lester Quinones
SF: D.J. Jeffries
PF: De’Andre Williams (Evansville, Needs Waiver)
C: Moussa Cisse
Bench: Alex Lomax, Damion Baugh, Lance Thomas, Malcolm Dandridge, Isaiah Stokes, Jayden Hardaway, Ahmad Rand
This team is super talented. Boogie Ellis is a guy that can be one of the top shooters in the sport as can Lester Quinones. They had down seasons shooting wise but that’s not unexpected for Freshman, they have the skills to develop. D.J. Jeffries was super Impressive in his Freshman season, he had 10 points per game, while shooting 51% from-the-field, 39% from deep and is an ideal wing. Williams only played 18 games for Evansville last season but he had 15.2 points, and 6.9 rebounds per game, while shooting 64% from the field. He’s a very talented player who assuming he can get a waiver is going to be amazing this season.
Cisse is an elite defender, really good at the time but isn’t a shooter. I’m not saying at some point he can’t start shooting three’s but he didn’t in High School, maybe that’s due to him being bigger and stronger than them and not having to. Cisse should be a one-and-done guy but if he can become a stretch big-man that would definitely help his chances.
This is also a very deep team… Lomax and Baugh could easily start over Ellis, but we could see on that. Lomax averaged 6.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game last season, he’s a better all-around player than Ellis, but I think Ellis is the better scorer overall which could give him the starting nod. Baugh could be in for a big season off the bench, I don’t see a starting role for him at any point but is pretty good at all things, except shooting. Dandridge played sparingly last season, but he shot 70% from the field, he could be a guy that develops, he’s a really big guy and plays hard so I’d like to see him have a good season. Lance Thomas, who transferred from Louisville after 2017-18 and sat our last season, played a bench role this season but is mostly a stretch-4 which has a role, but he’s a bench guy and not much more than that. Isaiah Stokes is a guy who was a highly-touted recruit who started his career under Mike White at Florida, but transferred following the 2018-19 season as never got it going at Florida and with the addition of Kerry Blackshear Jr, last season he transferred. He redshirted his True Freshman season in 2016-17, so he lost a season of eligibility due to not receiving a waiver.
Another important thing, which is still on the table is if Virginia Tech transfer, Landers Nolley can secure a waiver. He’s a talented guy, but Mike Young used him far too much. He has good size and is a really good scorer but he was way overused, which should never be his role.
The Tigers have sky-high potential this season and they are a team that not only could win the American but make a second weekend run in the Big Dance.