Mady Sissoko's offseason growth is critical

Mady Sissoko’s offseason growth is critical

Mady Sissoko is entering the most important offseason of his life as Michigan State basketball is going to need him to take a huge step.

It’s been an interesting few weeks for Michigan State basketball and the news surrounding the program hasn’t been all positive.

The Spartans watched as Marcus Bingham Jr., Gabe Brown, and Max Christie all declared for the NBA draft and Julius Marble also announced his departure from the program, entering the transfer portal. On top of all this, the Big Ten saw Hunter Dickinson and Zach Edey announce their returns while Indiana also landed a five-star big man for 2022.

With all of these developments, it’s never been more clear that Tom Izzo needs to utilize the portal to fill out the roster for 2022-23.

More specifically, the Hall of Fame head coach needs to target a big man and I’ve mentioned before that Manny Bates would be the perfect addition because of his defensive prowess and improvement on the offensive end before his injury last season.

But along with adding a big man in the portal, which I believe is a necessity no matter what, Mady Sissoko must take a huge leap forward this offseason. This is the most important offseason of the young big man’s career and if Michigan State even wants to have a shot at a Big Ten title, it must add a portal center and Sissoko needs to improve by leaps and bounds.

Through two seasons, Sissoko has been nothing more than a third or fourth option at center and he’s struggled to stay on the court because of foul trouble and a general inability to effectively defend against opposing bigs. He has the potential to be solid, but he hasn’t progressed much, if at all, in two seasons.

In fact, he averaged 1.1 points, 1.0 rebounds, and 0.4 blocks in his second season after averaging 1.1 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 0.4 blocks as a true freshman last year. His production plateaued and even though he played in more games, his minutes per game dropped.

That’s not the progress anyone was hoping for.

michigan state needs him to make a leap—and a big one, at that. He needs to become a defensive big who can wreak some havoc on the offensive end near the basket every now and then — preferably off the bench. If he can become a solid No. 2 center option behind a quality transfer, Michigan State will be in really good shape.

We don’t need Sissoko to average 20 and 10 or anything, but somewhere around 4-5 points and 5-6 rebounds would be ideal. Plus, averaging over a block per game is more than doable for a player with Sissoko’s length and athleticism.

Like I said, I don’t want Sissoko to improve so he can be the No. 1 option at center for the Spartans because this team needs much more than that. He needs to take that next step to give him momentum for his fourth and potentially fifth seasons (assuming he uses his COVID year). If he sees his points and rebounds jump to 4-5 and 5-6, respectively, Michigan State can feel better about its second option at center and potentially a future starter at the position.

Sissoko needs to take a healthy leap this offseason and Izzo needs to add a big in the portal. Both can be true.

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