Grand View Christian outlasts St. Albert in Class 1A quarterfinals. Cody Goodwin, firstname.lastname@example.org
The state’s top unsigned senior got his Wells Fargo Arena introduction Monday.
Harouna Sissoko, a 6-foot-7 basketball prospect from Grand View Christian, logged 14 points and nine rebounds in the Thunder’s 58-51 win over St. Albert Council Bluffs in the Class 1A quarterfinals.
He was undisciplined at times and fouled out in the fourth. Still, he was physically dominant and showed the potential that landed him at No. 10 in the Register’s final in-state 2019 rankings.
And here’s a clue as to the type of worker he is: After the win, Sissoko lamented that his 3-point percentage temporarily dipped below 40 percent entering the state tournament.
"I gotta get in the gym and put some shots up," he said.
That’s the thing with Sissoko. He’s a quality, above-the-rim athlete and plays alongside Drake signee Issa Samake down low for GVC. But, although Samake projects more as a 6-7 stretch forward in college, Sissoko projects more as a 6-7 wing.
His 3-point shot — which is now back above a 40 percent clip — allows him to stretch the floor and be effective from the perimeter, especially in a half-court offense. When defenses have to respect his outside shot, shot-fake and blow-by opportunities open up.
Still, Sissoko is best in transition. He runs like a gazelle, with gaping strides that cover ground rapidly. He has become known for his full-speed, thunderous dunks since transferring in from Georgia this year.
South Dakota, Valparaiso and Evansville are among the schools connected to Sissoko right now. He reports offers from Tulsa, Middle Tennessee State and Coppin State, although those came a while ago or, in MTSU’s case, before a coaching change.
Originally from Mali, Sissoko said he hopes to make a college decision in the spring.
Samake also fouled out and finished with five points, five blocks and seven rebounds. Before fouling out, his fourth-quarter blocks helped jolt the Thunder back to life after they were outscored 9-7 in the third. With his natural talents and 7-4 1/2 wingspan, he continues to look like a high-upside prospect and good get for the Bulldogs.
An Algona product with promise
Angelo Winkel showed why he’s an intriguing 2021 prospect Monday.
The 6-9 power forward logged 18 points and six rebounds in Bishop Garrigan’s 78-65 loss to Montezuma in the second 1A quarterfinal of the day.
Winkel worked hard and won most of his one-on-one battles down low. He flashed nice passes here and there out of double-teams, too. He entered state averaging 16.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. His best play came early in the fourth quarter, when he altered Montezuma star sophomore point guard Trey Shearer's shot at the rim, ran the floor in the ensuing fast break and converted a lay-up on the other end.
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Against small-school competition, Winkel is almost always going to be the most physically gifted player on the court. So, impressive production isn't a surprise.
What will be more telling for Winkel's stock is how he fares when he isn’t the best athlete on the floor — when he plays bigger, taller, more talented forwards down low. He’ll get those opportunities this spring and summer during AAU ball.
Bishop Garrigan head coach Mark Meister said that, from his freshman to sophomore year, Winkel has shown the most improvement in his passing and mental growth.
"For him, size, strength and speed, that’s all going to be easily grown incrementally going forward," Meister said. "But, to shut the mind down a little bit and listen to a coach and understand, 'I’m not good enough at that part of the game, but I want to get better moving forward' — he’s starting to understand and respect that."
Already well-built, Winkel could be an imposing force when his 6-9 body matures. Pair that frame with a solid inside game and a mid-range jump shot that could develop into a threat, and it makes sense why high-majors have shown preliminary interest.
Winkel has unofficially visited Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa. Creighton, among other Midwest programs, is also aware of him.
Matthew Bain covers recruiting, Iowa/Iowa State athletics and Drake basketball for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.