East Lansing — Mady Sissoko looked at a table with four hats on Tuesday night, and in one quick moment, the native of Mali, West Africa, decided where he would next call home.
The 6-foot-9, 230-pound forward from Wasatch Academy in Mount Pleasant, Utah, announced he was committing to Michigan State, choosing the Spartans over finalists that included Kansas, Memphis and BYU.
“Pretty much my best day ever,” Sissoko said after pulling the green and white hat down tight on his head.
Preparing to enter his senior season at Wasatch, Sissoko possesses a 7-4 wingspan and ranks among the top players in the nation. He checks in at No. 36 in the 247sports.com composite rankings while he’s rated No. 40 in the nation by Rivals.com.
Sissoko took an official visit to Michigan State last weekend, the second time he had been to East Lansing. He had also visited Kansas and Memphis earlier this week, but the official visit to Michigan State was simply to affirm the choice had already made.
“It was kind of a long time ago,” Sissoko said of when he’d made up his mind. “I feel like the second visit I wanted to go back and make sure I was making a good decision.”
Sissoko has only been in the United States for three years and is still a beginner of sorts as a basketball player. But he’s developed quickly and as he did, the interest from college basketball’s top programs followed.
The home team was BYU, and they were in on Sissoko earlier. But during his visit to BYU in July, Sissoko was involved in a freak accident where he suffered a broken hand in an ATV accident. That injury will keep Sissoko out for at least the start of the 2019-20 season for Wasatch.
According to a report in the Salt Lake Tribune, Sissoko was riding a "Razor" ATV alongside BYU players and coaches during his visit. When the ATV flipped to the side, Sissoko extended his arm to brace for impact and fractured his hand.
By then, the recruiting interest was expanding, and Michigan State was pushing hard. And as much as the Spartans’ success played a role in Sissoko’s choice, his legal guardian, Michael Clayton, said the atmosphere Tom Izzo has created played an even bigger role.
“I think first is the culture of the team, the players and the coaching staff,” Clayton said. “(Sissoko) is a young man from Mali that hasn’t been in the public eye. The Michigan State coaching staff demonstrated they not only know the game but they know how to take care of their guys and they care about them. They love them and it’s not just about basketball. Of course they have a rich tradition of winning and developing players and all that, but the real thing is they care about their players and they become a family.”
Sissoko joins four-star guard Jalen Terry of Flint Beecher as the only members of Michigan State’s 2020 class. Terry, a 5-11 point guard, is ranked 47th in the nation by Rivals and No. 55 in the 247sports composite rankings.
The Spartans continue to pursue several other top prospects. Five-star guard Bryce Thompson of Tulsa, Oklahoma, has Michigan State among his finalists and is reportedly visiting East Lansing the weekend of Oct. 25, which is also likely the weekend for "Midnight Madness" at the Breslin Center.
Four-star guard A.J. Hoggard of Huntington Prep, the same school that former Spartan Miles Bridges attended, is set to be in town this weekend for his official visit.
Other players still on Michigan State’s radar for 2020 include five-star forward Isaiah Jackson of Waterford Mott and four-star guard Jaemyn Brakefield of Huntington Prep. Jackson, who played with current Spartan Rocket Watts last season at Spire Academy in Ohio before transferring to Mott, has been considered a Michigan State lean, but recently took a visit to Kentucky.