The key, Lindsay Whalen said, was getting her here.
The Gophers women’s basketball staff knew Kadiatou Sissoko was in the NCAA’s transfer portal. A 6-2 forward with good skill who had been ranked as the 10th-best recruit in the nation in 2018 by ESPN when she committed to Syracuse, Sissoko had another decision to make.
“We called her,” Whalen said. “We got her out here. And she liked what she saw.”
After a two-day visit last seek, Sissoko, a native of Paris, decided to transfer to Minnesota and will be eligible after sitting out the 2019-20 season under NCAA transfer rules. Since ESPN began ranking recruiting classes in 2007, the highest-ranked recruit to come to Minnesota was Rachel Banham, who was No. 19 in 2011.
“It was a good week,” said Whalen, who ended the week with her No. 13 jersey being retired by the Minnesota Lynx. “We have a lot of success when we get kids here for a visit. They see the athletes village, the potential they could be a part of. It’s an exciting time. They’re hearing our vision. We’re trying to build something special, and they see the tools we have to help them.”
Sissoko was sold. She played in 22 games with Syracuse last season, missing some time after minor knee surgery. She averaged 3.2 points and 1.8 rebounds. Sissoko will enroll in the fall.
Landing a former five-star recruit should give Whalen’s program more momentum going forward.
“The city of Minneapolis was a big draw,” Whalen said of Sissoko. “She came to campus, liked what she heard.”