- Moussa Cisse – one of the most talented prospects in the country – signed with the Memphis Tigers on Wednesday
- The versatile center played at Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis last season and chose Penny Hardaway’s program over LSU
- Cisse’s signing has the Tigers at +7500 longshots to win the 2021 NCAA Tournament Championship
Uber-talented post Moussa Cisse signed with the Memphis Tigers Wednesday. The addition of the big man instantly puts Penny Hardaway’s program in the conversation as potential sleepers to win it all in Indianapolis.
But just how much should bettors believe in Memphis?
2021 National Championship Odds
|Team||Odds at FanDuel|
Odds taken July 15th
When you look at the 2021 National Championship odds tracker, all but one of the top five programs have won at least one NCAA title in the last 13 seasons. That one school – Gonzaga – is currently the favorite to cut down the nets at Lucas Oil Stadium April 5, 2021.
But it’s another mid-major that found itself in the headlines Wednesday, after Memphis locked in local prep star Moussa Cisse to remain in Bluff City for at least one more year.
Official 🐯 pic.twitter.com/VFKoiQ7hfE
— Moussa Cisse 33 (@moussacisse224) July 15, 2020
Cisse’s signing comes on the heels of last year’s class, which included a pair of one-and-done five-stars in James Wiseman and Precious Achiuwa. That duo helped give Memphis the No. 1 recruiting class in the country.
Of course, Wiseman ended up playing only three games for Hardaway amidst an eligibility battle over $11,500 in moving expenses the Memphis head coach had given Wiseman’s family during his Penny’s stint as a high school coach in the city.
The Tigers, meanwhile, ranked as high as No. 9 in the AP Poll prior to American Athletic Conference play got underway, but finished the season with a 21-10 overall record and 10-8 mark in the AAC.
So, will it be different with Cisse this year? Let’s analyze the signing and whether or not the Tigers’ long odds are worth taking a flyer on.
While the signings of Wiseman and Achiuwa helped give Memphis the nation’s top recruiting class last season, that potential didn’t translate to on-the-floor success. Why should the inking of just one five-star player in Cisse make things different?
First of all, Cisse is a better shooter and more skilled than Achiuwa coming out of high school. He also possesses a rare combo of athleticism and energy that could make him the final piece of the puzzle for Memphis’ already-talented front court.
In his final season at Lausanne, Cisse had multiple triple doubles with points, rebounds and blocks – and his game should translate really well to the next level.
Long story short, as highly-touted as Wiseman and Achiuwa were, Cisse may end up being the best of the trio.
Not the Only One
While Cisse is clearly the biggest get for Hardaway and his staff so far this offseason, he’s not the only new addition to a program hungry to join the nation’s elite.
The Tigers’ Class of 2020 also includes Evansville transfer DeAndre Williams, Virginia Tech transfer Landers Nolley and JUCO transfer Ahmad Rand.
While it’s still unclear Williams and Nolley will be allowed to play this season (given the NCAA transfer rules), their talent is undeniable. Williams chose Memphis over Arkansas, Baylor and Kentucky, while Nolley was the Hokies’ leading scorer last season (putting up 15.5 points per game) and selected the Tigers over Georgia and Ole Miss. In other words, these guys are legit newcomers.
Memphis’ 2020 class is now ranked No. 58 overall (No. 4 in the AAC) according to 247Sports and jumped 72 spots after Cisse’s commitment – but it seems like that ranking will skyrocket if the D1 transfers are allowed to play.
Considering the uncertainty surrounding all sports due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s a decent bet the NCAA will ease restrictions and let players play with their teams.
Ultimately, Cisse and Co. will be judged by what they do on the court. Hardaway, entering his third season at his alma mater, has proven he can recruit. But now, Tiger fans are wondering if the 14-year NBA veteran and four-time All-Star can coach the program back to the glory days of John Calipari.
Hardaway built one of the best AAU programs in the country before leading Memphis East High School to a state title in 2018. Penny has put up win totals of 22 and 21 in his first two seasons with the Tigers.
That said, this has the looks of a potential breakout season. And with Moussa Cisse doing it all, the 2020-21 campaign may prove to be special. I love Memphis as a +7500 longshot to win the title. This number will only shrink as oddsmakers begin to further handicap this team.