Mady Sissoko: 3 things to know about the MSU center
It has been an up-and-down season for Michigan State center Mady Sissoko, but that hasn't stopped Tom Izzo from starting him in 32 of the Spartans' 33 games this season as they prepare for their Sweet 16 game Thursday against Kansas State.
Let's get to know Sissoko a little bit here, and his incredible backstory of how he ended up in East Lansing.
Mady Sissoko was born in Mali
Mady Sissoko was born on Dec. 20, 2000, in Mali, a native of the village of Bafoulabe. He lived in West Africa with his family, working on a farm without such things as modern farm equipment, electricity, running water, automobiles or radios. Sissoko had never played basketball before, but in 2016 one of his brothers ended up on security detail for Mike Clayton, a Utah-based medical administrator who would make trips to Mali with medical professionals to perform eye surgeries.
Sissoko's brother told Clayton about Mady and his height, mentioning that Sissoko had an interest in playing basketball.
What Clayton saw was a youngster who “had no basketball skill, but he could jump out of the ceiling," he told Chris Solari of the Detroit Free Press in 2020.
With that in mind, a visa was secured for Sissoko and he was enrolled at Wasatch Academy in Utah.
Mady Sissoko didn't play basketball until he was 16
Mady Sissoko had never played basketball until coming over to the United States. At Wasatch, Sissoko was certainly a project, but he had already shown enough athleticism to where it was worth bringing him over to the States — with his family's blessing.
And once the 6-foot-9, 230-pounder got on the court, he shined quickly and shot up the recruiting charts. He was a four-star recruit and finished No. 35 in the ESPN Top 100 for the 2020 class. He was 41st nationally in the 247Sports Composite rankings and the No. 9 center in the class. The Spartans beat out BYU, Kansas and Memphis in earning Sissoko's commitment.
In his senior year of high school (2020), he averaged 12.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per game after averaging 12.5 and 8.9 as a junior.
He uses his NIL money to help impoverished people in Mali
Mady Sissoko is one of 25 college athletes signed with Helium Sports & Entertainment Marketing, based out of Detroit. And Sissoko donates his name, image and likeness money from there — and perhaps the monthly stipend he receives from United Wholesale Mortage as well — to his own charity, The Mady Sissoko Foundation, to help the impoverished people of Mali.
BYU forward Fousseyni Traore, who's also from Mali, also contributes to the foundation, according to a 2022 Forbes article from Adam Zagoria.
Sissoko is currently trying to raise $50,000 over the next few months to start construction of a new school in his village, he said in a February interview with "The Final Four Is Not on the Schedule" podcast.
If you're interested in donating, visit The Mady Sissoko Foundation website.
This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: Mady Sissoko: 3 things to know about the Michigan State center