HoopsHype.com Interviews

Ousmane Cisse: "I know I belong in the NBA"
by Jorge Sierra / September 16, 2003

- Attended the St. Jude HS.
- Named 1st Team All-America by Parade Magazine in 2001.
- Selected by the Denver Nuggets as 47th overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft.
- Has played for the Brevard Blue Ducks of the USBL, the Harlem Globetrotters and Lomokotiv Vody (Russia) in the last two years.
-Will be in training camp with the Orlando Magic next month.

It has been reported that you are going to be in training camp with the Orlando Magic. Is that true?

Ousmane Cisse: Yes, it's true. It's a great team and a great opportunity for me. I'll have a chance to show my talents.

And what are your talents? What can you bring to a team like Orlando?

OC: I can bring a lot of energy, play good defense and that kind of things.

Do you think you have a good shot at making the team?

OC: Yeah, I think so.

If you don't make the team, how much of a disappointment would it be for you?

OC: I would be really disappointed. But that's part of the game. I'm just going to do my best to earn a spot. I'm not going to be mad if I don't make the team, but it would be a great disappointment.

How's been life for you since you were drafted a couple of years ago?

OC: It's been great, it's been great. I got the chance to play for several teams and I have worked on my game. I have worked very hard to get the opportunity to play in the NBA.

You've played in the USBL and the Globetrotters... How were those experiences?

OC: Playing for the Globetrotters, that was different, you know what I mean. There was no competition there. It's a different story in the USBL. There is good competition. There are a lot of good players out there.

Have you been frustrated for not getting a chance to play in the NBA in these two years?

OC: Yeah, it was disappointing. It was disappointing because I know I belong in the NBA. I know I belong there. I know I can can play there, but they didn't give me the chance to prove it. But you don't have to be mad at the situation, you just have to keep working hard, you know what I'm saying.

You and Tyson Chandler were at a similar level in high school and you both entered the draft in 2001. How do you feel when you see him in the NBA?

OC: I don't see him much... Everybody has to make the best of their opportunities – and he did that. He got a chance and took it. If I get a chance, I know I'll be ready to take it, too. In my case, Denver didn't give me a chance because of an injury. But I'm OK now. And I know I'm good enough to play in the NBA.

Why do you think you slipped to the second round in the 2001 NBA Draft? Do you think it was only because of that injury?

OC: Because of the injury. That was the only reason, because I worked out for 15 teams and I knew there was a big possibility I could go in the first round. They were saying that Tyson Chandler was going to be drafted in a high position and I was right there with him. I was the first power forward in high school that year.

Many people think that you made the wrong decision by declaring for the draft in 2001. What can you say about that?

OC: That's not right. I was ready. People who say that, they don't know me. I had already played against good competition and I was ready.

Why did you decide to enter the draft that year?

OC: I was a top 3 player in high school. Tyson Chandler was going to be a lottery pick and they were talking about Kwame Brown, too. And I was not different. I was ready. If Tyson Chandler and Kwame Brown can play in the NBA, I can play there, too.

Many players declare for the draft because they need the money to support their families. Was that a factor in your decision, too?

OC: Money is good. Money is really good. But my family is OK. My mother works in the Congress back in Mali and my daddy is a high school professor, so they have no problems. The money was for me, not for my people because they don't really need it.

If you don't make the Magic's roster, what other options do you have?

OC: If I don't make the team, I would probably go to play in Europe. But we'll see what happens.

Jorge Sierra is the editor of HoopsHype.com.

Tell us what you think about this interview. E-mail us at HoopsHype@HoopsHype.com