Michigan State Basketball: Could Mady Sissoko start in 2020-21?

Tom Izzo, Michigan State basketball (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
Tom Izzo, Michigan State basketball (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /

Potentially losing Xavier Tillman to the NBA draft, Michigan State basketball will have to consider starting true freshman Mady Sissoko.

Entering year one at Michigan State, Mady Sissoko is hoping to accomplish something many can’t: start as a true freshman under Tom Izzo.

That won’t be easy, however. The Spartans are bringing back Marcus Bingham Jr., Thomas Kithier, Joey Hauser, Malik Hall and Julius Marble to the post. Those guys provide much-needed depth and range anywhere from power forward to center but a couple of them can stretch the floor as 3-point threats.

Sissoko doesn’t come to Michigan State as a true inside-out player, but rather a rim protector with a Big Ten body as a freshman. He stands 6-foot-9 and 230 pounds and a 7-4 wingspan. This kid screams shot-blocking specialist and dominant defender, but will he start right away?

Michigan State basketball’s need for a true center

While there’s still a chance Xavier Tillman could return for a senior year, Michigan State doesn’t have a true center on the roster. You could argue that Tillman is the best center the team has, but he’s built more for the power forward position and the same can be said for Marcus Bingham Jr. even though he’s the tallest player on the team.

Sissoko is a true center.

He’s not much taller than Tillman at 6-foot-9, but he possesses a muscular frame and post game that resembles more of what Izzo looks for in a center — see Nick Ward.

If Tillman departs, we could very well see Sissoko start in the post next to Hauser. If Tillman comes back, he’ll assume that center role, but we’ll see plenty of bigger lineups with both in the post. Heck, we could even see a lineup with Sissoko and Tillman in the post and Hauser or Hall on the wing — now that’s what you call size.

As far as starting as a true freshman, it’ll be an uphill battle for Sissoko as a few things will need to happen. One, Tillman must remain in the NBA draft. Two, he’ll have to work on his offensive post game. And three, he’ll need to surpass Bingham Jr. and Marble in the rotation.

Could Sissoko start? Absolutely. He’s not the No. 38 recruit in the 2020 class for no reason. He’s as talented as any big in the class but a lot needs to happen first.

Beginning the season, I could see him as one of the first guys off the bench, but if he does start, I think you won’t see it until right before Big Ten play.

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