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Kansas State Basketball: Wildcats Add Wake Forest Transfer Ismael Massoud

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K-State adds another P5 transfer to complete the roster.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Ismael Massoud, a 6’8”, 220 pound sophomore forward transfer from Wake Forest announced today that he will be joining Kansas State for the 2021/2022 season.

Also of note

It’s hard to keep track, but I believe this means Ismael will come to K-State with Sophomore eligibility (because of the Covid season) and be good to go from day one in Manhattan.

As a Recruit

Massoud, born in Madrid, Spain, played his high school ball at The MacDuffie School in Granby, Massachusetts but is from Bronx, New York (or possibly East Harlem N.Y. there appears to be a bit of a debate regarding his home town). He was rated as a 4* power forward, the 26th best PF, and 129th best overall player in the 2019 recruiting class by Rivals.

He had a total of 24 offers coming out of high school, and chose Wake Forest and Danny Manning over a final group of Wake, Georgia Tech, Harvard, and Rutgers. Teams that offered but were not included in his final group include Arizona State, Auburn, Florida State, Creighton, Illinois, Minnesota, Texas Tech, Xavier, Oregon, and Stanford.

A bit of a tweener, the recruiting services couldn’t decide if he was going to be a tall wing or a skinny forward. 247Sports evaluated him as a wing and rated him as a high 3* prospect, the 37th best small forward, and the 160th best overall player in the nation. Based on his time at Wake Forest, the Rivals evaluation was correct.

At Wake Forest

Danny Manning could recruit, but that’s about all he accomplished during his time in Winston Salem. The Demon Deacons were a bit of a flaming train wreck under the former Kansas star, and Ismael was holding on for dear life as the program careened down the tracks his freshman season.

Manning was relieved of his coaching duties after a 13-18 2019-20 season and was replaced by Steve Forbes. Coach Forbes inherited a mess but managed to cobble together a roster that often featured the undersized Massoud playing in the post because Forbes had no other options.

After Wake finished up a 6-16 2020-21 season, Ismael decided to jump into the transfer vortex in search of a program that could better utilize his skill set.

Freshman Stats

(all stats per game)

Games Played: 31

Games Started: 0

Minutes: 12.2

Points: 4.8

Rebounds: 2

Assists: .3

3 Point Percentage: .398

Free Throw Percentage: .759

Sophomore Stats

Games Played: 22

Games Started: 8

Minutes: 22.6

Points: 8.3

Rebounds: 3.4

Assists: .5

3 Point Percentage: .336

Free Throw Percentage: .732

Career Highs

Points: 31 (vs Pitt)

3 Point Field Goals Made: 8 (vs Pitt)

Rebounds: 8 (vs Duke)

What He Brings to the Table

Massoud is a prototypical stretch 4 in modern college basketball. His offensive game is based around his ability to catch and shoot both from the wing (free throw line extended on either side is his sweet spot) and from the corner. At 6’8”, with long arms, he doesn’t have to worry much about being open. If he wants to shoot, he pulls the trigger, and there isn’t anything a closing defender can do to bother the shot because of his high release.

He has shown some ability to drive the ball to the rim and finish, but that is secondary to his shooting ability. If you invite him to drive the ball because of an over aggressive close out, he will, but he’d rather drop a 3 in your eye and get back on defense. He doesn’t appear to be an explosive athlete, like Xavier Sneed, but can finish at the rim with either hand when the need arises.

He’ll need to get stronger on defense to handle bigger 4’s who should be able to bury him in the post, and his rebounding leaves something to be desired, but that’s the tradeoff in modern basketball.

Shooting trumps everything, and as you can see below, he can shoot.

How He Fits

If you want to build your team around Nijel Pack at the point and Davion Bradford at center, adding a deadly wing shooter with size is an excellent idea. Coach Weber and company came into the offseason needing a “stretch 4” and came out of the portal with a proven 6’8” shooter with three (in theory) years of eligibility remaining.

He allows the Wildcats to play 4-out around Bradford, or even 5-out with Bradford (or Ezeagu) running high pick and roll with a wide open lane (much like the Wildcats did against Baylor, but this time with legit shooters on either wing).

This also gives K-State a ton of flexibility in terms of lineups. Montavious Murphy is still going to get plenty of run at the power forward position (if healthy) and helps to balance out Massoud’s rebounding and defense. If a team is truly punishing the Wildcats on the boards or in the paint, Murphy is ready, willing, and able to bang down low as a more traditional power forward. They form an intriguing combo at the 4 and it’s also possible for Ismael to bump up to the 3 and play with Murphy at the 4 (although I think that would only happen if there is an injury to one of the other wing players).

Outside of the power forward position, pairing Massoud with 6’5” wing shooter Mark Smith at the 3 gives the Wildcats shooting for days. Pairing him with Selton Miguel helps keep the floor spread and makes up for Miguel’s (as of now) lack of shooting. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Massoud/Miguel and a Murphy/Smith rotation in the first half of games to keep everyone fresh and the lineup balanced.

I could go on about different potential rotations but I’ll save that for another article because Bruce (in theory) has an incredible number of lineup options and player rotation at his disposal next season. This team is a legit 10 deep, and could go deeper depending on how a few other players develop.

Overall

Again, it’s a loooong offseason, and I can’t shoot off all my ideas in one article, but K-State is pretty much in the absolute best-case scenario at this point in the offseason. Keeping McGuirl, adding a scoring point guard off the bench in Nowell, a wing shooter in Smith, and a stretch power forward in Massoud is an impressive haul. Coach Southwell, in particular (note, probably another article) is paying huge dividends in recruiting, and has opened up a bit of an East Coast pipeline with Nowell, Massoud, and Maximus Edwards all hailing from New York.

This team is deeper and significantly more talented than it was a month ago, and I’m not sure I saw that coming. All the angst and hand wringing over transfers seems to have been a bit overblown.

Of course, none of this matters if it doesn’t materialize into wins on the court, but at the very least, there won’t be any excuses next season. The players are in Manhattan, now it’s time to win some basketball games.