In the span of just a few days this month, 7-foot basketball prodigy Mustapha “Momo” Cisse committed to Oakland University, departed Hillcrest Prep in Arizona for Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut, and decommitted from the Golden Grizzlies.
For 48 hours, the Oakland men’s basketball fan base was celebrating a stunning “get,” a big man who had offers from a whole bunch of big-time Power Five programs, including Arizona State, Georgia, Mississippi State, Texas Tech and Cal. He was to be a part of Oakland’s 2022 class.
And then, poof! He was gone.
Within hours of Cisse’s stunning announcement that he was heading to Oakland over the Power Fives — and without even taking a trip to campus — it all fell apart for the Golden Grizzlies.
It’s unclear exactly what happened, but coaches for Cisse, a native of Senegal who played in France before heading to prep school in Arizona, were admittedly swarmed with phone calls from big-time college basketball coaches after his commitment to Oakland, a mid-major.
They wanted an explanation — and, clearly, they wanted him to reconsider.
“And saying, ‘What the hell?'” Nick Weaver, recruiting coordinator at Hillcrest Prep, told The News earlier this month, speaking of all the phone calls he took. “Nobody saw it coming.”
Weaver called Oakland the “perfect fit” for Cisse after his original commitment, saying college athletes are realizing you don’t need to go the Power Five route to make it into the NBA and thrive in the league. Oakland coach Greg Kampe coached Kendrick Nunn, who was a breakout star in Miami, and this offseason signed a two-year, $10-million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. Also, with COVID-19 allowing college athletes an extra year of eligibility, it’s easier to start sooner, as a freshman or sophomore, at the mid-major level.
Cisse’s connections to Oakland including Kampe and Weaver’s longtime relationship, as well as current Golden Grizzlies player Micah Parrish, who came to Oakland from Hillcrest Prep.
Detroit Catholic Central forward Cooper Craggs now again is the lone member of Oakland’s 2022 class.
On the Oakland big man front, the Golden Grizzlies did add 7-footer Braden Burke to the 2021-22 roster this week, the NCAA approving a sixth-year waiver. Burke, a former star at Stevensville Lakeshore, began his collegiate career at Robert Morris, transferred to Michigan State, and finally Central Michigan, though he didn’t play for the Chippewas because of COVID-19.
“The game was taken from me last year and I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity to have it back,” Burke wrote on Twitter this week.
In his one mid-major season, at Robert Morris, he played 32 games, averaging 4.3 points and 2.7 rebounds in 15 minutes.
Circle the date
Three Division I men’s team in Michigan have released their full nonconference schedules, and they’re stacked with some mighty Power Five competition. Here they are:
►Oakland: Nov. 9 at West Virginia, Nov. 12 at Oklahoma State, Nov. 17 vs. Toledo, Nov. 19 at Alabama, Nov. 22-24 in the Gulf Coast Showcase, Dec. 7 at Bowling Green, Dec. 21 vs. Michigan State at Little Caesars Arena.
►Central Michigan: Nov. 9 at Missouri, Nov. 13 at DePaul, Nov. 15 at Eastern Illinois, Nov. 22-23 at Empire Classic (Gonzaga, Bellarmine), Nov. 29 at Kentucky, Dec. 1 at Xavier, Dec. 5 vs. Western Illinois, Dec. 8 at Youngstown State, Dec. 11 vs. Illinois-Chicago.
►Western Michigan: Nov. 10 vs. Hope, Nov. 12 at Michigan State, Nov. 18 vs. Saginaw Valley State, Nov. 22 at Iowa, Nov. 26-28 at FGCU Invitational (FGCU, Purdue-Fort Wayne, Southeastern Louisiana), Dec. 5 vs. Valparaiso, Dec. 11 at Detroit Mercy, Dec. 17 vs. Aquinas, Dec. 20 at Notre Dame.
Michigan, Michigan State, Detroit Mercy and Eastern Michigan haven’t yet released their full schedules.
►The Detroit Mercy men’s 2021 recruiting class includes no high schoolers. All are coming from another college: South Florida forward Madut Akec, Vanderbilt guard DJ Harvey, Bradley guard Kevin McAdoo (West Bloomfield), South Florida forward Prince Oduro, UT-Arlington forward Jordan Phillips and North Central Missouri College guard Jeramy Shaw.
Guard Jamail Pink, who played in two games last season, entered the transfer portal this week.
►On the women’s side at Detroit Mercy, interim head coach LaTanya Collins finalized her 13-player roster — 100% turnover from last year’s team amid the saga involving former head coach AnnMarie Gilbert. (One of the players, former Detroit Country Day forward Maxine Moore, has transferred to Wayne State.)
Five of the new players are Division I transfers, and several more are former JUCO standouts. The Titans have won 10 games, total, in the last four seasons.
►In stark contract to Detroit Mercy, Western Michigan men’s coach Clayton Bates has five freshmen in his 2021 class, including forwards Jack Stefanski (Frankfort) and Owen Lobsinger (Flint Powers Catholic). Western lost several players to the transfer portal this year, including guard Jason Whitens to Michigan State.
►Eastern Michigan men’s team, under first-year coach Stan Heath, has added graduate transfer Nate Scott, a forward from Northern Illinois. He’s the son of former EMU captain Lewis Scott.
►Former Central Michigan star Presley Hudson is on the coaching fast track. She was brought back to her alma mater this offseason to be director of player personnel, and quickly was promoted to assistant coach.
►Ernie Wagner, a star for Wayne State men in the early 1950s, died at home in Flint on June 23. He was 88.
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