Provo • Mady Sissoko, a rising senior at Wasatch Academy and widely considered to be one of the top 100 prep basketball prospects in the country, suffered a significant hand injury while on an official recruiting visit to BYU last weekend and will likely miss a portion of the upcoming 2019-20 season.
According to Mike Clayton, a Provo ophthamologist and Sissoko’s legal guardian in the United States the past three years, the 6-foot-9, 230-pound basketball star fractured his right hand in an accident involving an all-terrain vehicle known as a “Razor” at Daniels Summit above Heber City last Friday.
During team-sponsored activity, Sissoko was a passenger in the ATV driven by a current member of the BYU basketball team whom Clayton declined to identify. The ATV flipped on its side while attempting a turn and Sissoko put out his hand to brace for the fall and struck a rock, causing the fracture.
BYU basketball spokesperson Kyle Chilton said Wednesday that the school cannot comment on the situation due to NCAA rules because Sissoko is a recruitable athlete.
Wasatch Academy coach Dave Evans called the accident “incredibly unfortunate,” wondered aloud why BYU puts its own players and recruits at risk with recreational activities that could be considered dangerous, and referred all other questions to Clayton.
Clayton, an administrator at the Utah Valley Eye Center, said Sissoko underwent surgery Saturday and doctors are expecting a full recovery. BYU has accepted responsibility for the mishap and offered to pay for all medical expenses, according to multiple sources.
“There is no tendon or nerve damage or anything. It is all bone. Bones heal, and they heal quickly and strongly. It is going to be a little bit of rehab during these next few months so he can get back and play like he was before,” said Clayton, who was on the excursion but did not see the accident.
“It was just unfortunate that we went on this activity,” he continued. “In hindsight, you are thinking, ‘why did we do that?’ Now, we will just move forward. He is still going to have a successful collegiate career. Luckily, it is in the summer and he still has a year of high school left and we believe he will recover completely.”
Sissoko, from Mali, West Africa, is a huge national recruit, with scholarship offers from most of the top college basketball programs in the country. Clayton said he has visits scheduled to Memphis, Kansas and Michigan State and is also talking to Duke and Kentucky about possible visits to those blue-blood programs.
In May, new BYU basketball coach Mark Pope made a 27-hour trip to West Africa for a 90-minute visit with Sissoko’s parents, who are devout Muslims, like their son.
Sissoko averaged 12.5 points and 8.9 rebounds per game in 2018-19 and carried a 3.56 grade point average, according to Wasatch Academy’s website.
Clayton said he doesn’t believe the accident will affect BYU’s chances of landing Sissoko, who was rated as one of the top overall performers at June’s NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, Va.
“Other than that, it was a really good visit,” Clayton said. “They did a remarkable job pointing out the strengths of going to a place like BYU.”
Clayton said Sissoko has been staying at his Provo home while he recovers, and the family has been driving him 57 miles to summer school classes in Mount Pleasant the last few days. During that time, several BYU players and coaches have paid him a visit to offer support and encouragement.
Sissoko’s entire AAU basketball team — called Utah Mountain Stars/Jimmer Elite — leaves for Mali this Saturday, along with a team of Utah-based medical professionals such as Clayton, and will help open an academy where youngsters can learn English. Clayton makes annual visits to Mali to perform cataract surgery on West Africans with eyesight problems, free of charge, which is where he met Sissoko’s brother several years ago and eventually agreed to become the blossoming basketball star’s legal guardian in the U.S.
“Mady is the face of that effort,” Clayton said. “He hasn’t seen his family for a year and a half. It will be a great trip.”