Sidy Cissoko, the No. 25 prospect in ESPN’s fictitious 2023 draft, told ESPN he has signed with the NBA’s G League Ignite program.
“We explored several options with my agents and I was convinced that G League Ignite was the best opportunity to achieve my goals,” Cissoko said on Tuesday. “The ability of this program to maximize the potential of its players on and off the court convinced me. More so, the bespoke development program and the opportunity to begin my transition to the American style of play, line to 3 points and off the pitch life is a major plus I felt in our conversations with the staff that I was a priority.
Cissoko, 18, the No. 3 ranked prospect of his generation in Europe after fellow Frenchmen Victor Wembanyama and Rayan Rupert, continues the growing change that G League Ignite has made by prioritizing international players in the wake of the name, of the image. and likeness deals that have changed the landscape of American and college recruiting.
Cissoko will try to follow in the footsteps of Australian Dyson Daniels, who was also slated when he signed with Ignite a year ago, but ended up increasing his draft stock considerably and was selected 8th overall in this draft. year by the New Orleans Pelicans.
“Dyson shows the ability of the G League to get high draft international players,” Cissoko said. “It was interesting to see how he was used on the pitch, because we play in the same position, even though our games are different. He had a great season and improved a lot during his year with Ignite. improvements and hard work are what I’m looking for.”
Cissoko joins Scoot Henderson, the second pick slated for the 2023 draft, on Ignite’s roster for the 2022-23 season, along with 6-foot-10 forward Leonard Miller of Canadian high school Fort Erie International Academy and Nigeria’s Efe Abogidi, who was recruited from Washington State’s NCAA transfer portal.
Ignite is considering several additional international signings from Europe, the NBA Academy and the US school system, a source told ESPN. Ignite landed a commitment last month from Lithuanian winger Matas Buzelis, a rising high schooler who will join the program a year from now after a season with Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita.
Cissoko said Ignite’s success in recruiting international players made sense because of their focus on player development.
“This program is tailor-made to help us achieve our goals,” Sissoko said. “It provides a unique opportunity for on-court development that is ahead of its time compared to most other organizations in the world with NBA-level coaching. The off-court development they offered was also appealing by putting the focus on life skills, education, wellness and more. This gives international players the opportunity to engage in the NBA ecosystem, with exposure to the NBA, which is essential to promote us.”
Cissoko, a 6ft 7in guard with long arms, burst onto NBA radar screens at last summer’s FIBA U18 European Championship in Tel Aviv, where he demonstrated his blend intriguing in strength, pitch vision and defensive potential. He had several telling performances last season while playing for second team Euroleague side Baskonia in LEB Gold, scoring 16 or more points on eight occasions against older professionals at just 17.
Cissoko was invited to the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland last April, where he had his ups and downs in practices, scrums and the official game, but overall he looked like the team’s second-best prospect. World Select alongside future Ignite teammate Leonard Miller.
Cissoko said the transition from the Spanish second division to the G League will be a unique challenge.
“G League is much more athletic and physical than LEB Gold. G League players are extremely aggressive and the game is faster,” he said. “Obviously staying in Baskonia was an option because the Euroleague is the best league in the world after the NBA and the ACB the best national league. I am convinced that I could have continued to learn in these leagues as well.
“However, I felt that at that time the most important thing for my development was to embrace a project that focused on my individual development and my transition to a different style of play, while keeping the best of what I had learned in Europe.”
Cissoko is currently training with the France U18 national team as part of his preparations for the FIBA U18 European Championship, which kicks off on July 30 in Izmir, Turkey. He is expected to join Ignite at their new headquarters in Henderson, Nevada after the event.
“I can’t wait to meet all the staff and my future teammates,” he said. “I will have different types of tests at the start to build my individual plan and then the work will start. I have spoken with the staff and we are on the same page, the next few months will be about hard work and development. improvement. My goal is to be drafted in the top 10 in 2023, and my work ethic has the ability to convince a franchise to choose me. I have always fought to be an asset in everything I have been involved in , it will remain the same next season.”
Jonathan Givony is an NBA draft expert and the founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a private scouting and analysis service used by NBA, NCAA and international teams.