Position: small forward
Born: July 29, 1976, Greensboro, NC
Opening day (2002) age: 26
Drafted: 1998, second round, pick 30, Dallas
NBA exerience: One year (one with Sonics)
Acquired: Signed as free agent March 29, 2002
Contract status: Signed through 2003-04 season.
Ansu Sesay Career Stats
2001-2002 in Review: After spending two seasons in the CBA, Ansu Sesay began his 2001-02 season in the Los Angeles Clippers' training camp. He was cut after playing in just one game and was subsequently the second-round pick of the NBDL's Greenville Groove in the league's supplemental Draft. Playing for the NBDL's best team, Sesay displayed a multitude of talents and was one of the league's leaders in several categories, including scoring, rebounding, and assists. He was named first-team all-NBDL and the league's inaugural MVP, but the highpoint of Sesay's season had to be when he was called up by the Seattle Supersonics on March 29 as injuries ravaged their roster. Though Sesay was expected to just be a warm body, he suddenly joined the team's rotation the next night in a win over the Portland Trail Blazers a night later, playing 12 minutes and scoring seven points in his NBA debut. Three nights later, still less than a week from the NBA's minor league, Sesay was playing 28 minutes against the Houston Rockets and was on the court down the stretch. Heady times indeed! Throughout the rest of the month, Sesay played intermittently as the Sonics clinched a playoff berth. When the second season started, the return to health of forwards Rashard Lewis and Vladimir Radmanovic put Sesay on the bench for only garbage minutes in the series' first games. After Lewis went out again midway through game three, Sesay became a key part of the team's game four rotation. His eight rebounds in 26 minutes helped out a 91-79 victory which forced a deciding game five.
Previous Career: Sesay was a college star at Ole' Miss, where he was named first-team all-SEC during both his junior and senior seasons and was the SEC's player of the year during his senior year. That added up to being the first pick of the second round of the 1998 Draft, taken ahead of players like Lewis and Houston's Cuttino Mobley. After the NBA's lockout ended, Sesay tore his ACL during a condensed training camp and spent the entire 1999 season on the injured list. He then spent the 1999-2000 season in the CBA, playing 54 games for Rockford, where he averaged nearly 12 points and five boards per game. In the fall of 2000, Sesay tried to hook on with the Mavericks again, but early in the preseason was dealt along with guard Dana Barros to Detroit for forward Loy Vaught. The next day, the Pistons released Sesay, and he returned to the CBA, playing 13 games for Quad City and finishing with averages of 10.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.
Shooting/Scoring: Sesay is more of a scorer than he is a shooter. Throughout his career,
he has demonstrated a strong ability to get the free-throw line off the dribble. As a left-handed
player, Sesay naturally tends towards that direction when he drives the basket. He employs a
rather flat jumper which lacks range. Sesay did not attempt a three-pointer last year in his nine
games with the Sonics, and that's probably for the best; he is only six of 37 from beyond the arc
in his professional career. Sesay is more comfortable shooting from around the 15-18 foot mark.
Despite having decent size for a small forward, Sesay did not display any evidence of a post game
Floor Game: For a small forward, Sesay has strong ballhandling skills, though he's not
about to be asked to run the point. If he wasn't a pitcher in high school, he should have been, as
Sesay enjoys rifling fastballs all over the court with his passes. While this cuts down on the chance
of interception, he has to be careful to know who is on the receiving end. Coaches have nightmares
about putting him and Olden Polynice on the same team. Although he was fairly turnover-prone at
the minor-league level, Sesay demonstrated remarkable sure-handedness during his time with the
Sonics, turning the ball over only twice in 142 minutes.
Rebounding: At 6-8 and evidently possessing a good wingspan, Sesay should be a better
rebounder than he is. Throughout his pro career, he's been nothing special on the glass, and was
below-average during his time with Seattle despite his strong effort in game four. The talent is there,
but Sesay needs to put his mind to boxing out consistently.
Defense: Though it would be a stretch to say he resembled a stopper, it was Sesay's
defense that caught the Sonics' attention. A combination of factors including his 6-8 height, his
long arms, and good footspeed give Sesay the ability to defend almost any small forward you
can throw at him. In his limited time with the Sonics, he appeared to play the passing lanes
well and should generate a fair number of steals. Sesay is a bit slight, and his main defensive
liability might be stronger small forwards who can overwhelm him in the post.
Intangibles: Apparently, there were some questions about Sesay's attitude in Dallas.
Allegedly, the Mavericks were unhappy that he did not sit on the bench for games while injured and
then failed to participate in the team's summer league program in 1999. However, they invited him
back to camp in 2000, so perhaps these problems weren't so bad after all. He did not have any
problems while in Seattle.
Overall: It's tough to get a read on Sesay at this stage of his career, and he looks like he
could go either way. If he really is as good as he played for the Sonics at the end of last season,
coaches for the Mavericks, Pistons, and Clippers have some explaining to do. On the other hand,
all of those teams let him go. And even looking at his MVP season from the NBDL last season,
there's nothing eye-popping in his minor league stats. The talent is clearly there, and it was
harnessed in college. Maybe all Sesay needed was a chance, and he found one in Seattle. He
becomes a free agent this season, with the Sonics having the opportunity to have right of first
refusal. The team seems to be interested in a return engagement. The trick will be finding
playing time for Sesay if he does come back. One possibility is that sixth man Desmond Mason
spends more time next year at shooting guard, giving Sesay some minutes at small forward and
providing the added benefit of keeping Brent Barry fresh for playoff team. It is possible, however,
that Sesay might be able to find a better situation where he can contribute more. Either way,
Sesay has dramatically improved his stock over the course of the past year.
August 19 Update: Sesay signed a two-year contract at the minimum with the Sonics. His role for next season will depend on whether Lewis returns for next season. If Lewis is back, Sesay does not stand to be a regular part of the Seattle rotation, but with Lewis out of the picture, Sesay would enter training camp as the Sonics' backup small forward.