Rising 2025 forward prospect Tounde Yessoufou set to visit Arizona on June 16

The Benin native is starting to generate some high-level interest, but his archetype is right in Tommy Lloyd's wheelhouse.
St. Joseph's Tounde Yessoufou (24) dunks the ball during the first round of the Capitol City Classic at Willamette University on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, in Salem, Ore.
St. Joseph's Tounde Yessoufou (24) dunks the ball during the first round of the Capitol City Classic at Willamette University on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, in Salem, Ore. / Kevin Neri/Statesman Journal / USA TODAY

Tounde Yessoufou, a rising forward prospect in the Class of 2025, is set for his official visit with Arizona Basketball this upcoming Sunday, June 16th.

The Benin native moved to the United States ahead of his freshman year in high school, and he has blossomed at St. Joseph High School in Santa Maria, California. 247Sports, Rivals, and On3 all have him listed as a four-star prospect, but he's not far removed from the coveted five-star ranking.

Who's in the mix for Yessoufou already?

Danny Sprinkle
Utah State v Purdue / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

Standing at 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, Yessoufou will enter his freshman year with an ideal strongly-built frame. He currently holds offers from Kansas, UCLA, USC, ASU, and UNLV among others, and he took an official visit to Washington way back in September before then-head coach Mike Hopkins was let go.

Kansas, who will undoubtedly be in the conversation for Yessoufou as a blue-blood, doesn't seem to be the best fit: the Jayhawks are currently rostering stud incoming Wisconsin transfer AJ Storr and rising Aussie sophomore Johnny Furphy at the position Yessoufou would play.

The stiffest competition Arizona will have in securing Yessoufou is actually poised to be Washington — the 'Cats just can't escape the Huskies, apparently. With former Utah State head coach Danny Sprinkle now leading the way, he convinced headline transfer Great Osobor to follow him from Utah State and seems poised to run it back with Sahvir Wheeler and Keion Brooks Jr.

He's also heard from schools like Oregon, Texas, and Tennessee during his recruitment process, which has kicked into high-gear with his increased participation in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League this summer.

What makes Arizona the best landing spot?

Tommy Lloyd
California Baptist v Arizona / Rebecca Noble/GettyImages

Recruiting players from outside the United States is Tommy Lloyd's signature tactic. Year after year, Lloyd finds extremely talented players from every corner of the globe dating back to his time as an assistant coach at Gonzaga.

Instead of getting into bidding wars for big-name domestic prospects, Lloyd has made a career of finding underappreciated diamonds beyond the borders. Lloyd even has a track record with successful big men from Africa: Cameroonian Christian Koloko had his best season under Lloyd in 2021-22, and he developed Malian Oumar Ballo into a first-team All-Pac-12 center.

Koloko was drafted in the 2022 NBA Draft by the Toronto Raptors in the second round, while Ballo was one of the top-rated transfers in the portal this last offseason and is staring down the barrel of an NBA future if he stays healthy and works on his free throws.

This track record with African players and broader success rate with foreign players on American soil sets Arizona apart from the other spots on Yessoufou's list. Tucson's reputation as a diverse city that appreciates other cultures will also help here, considering Yessoufou has spent the last few years in Southern California.

How would he fit on the team?

Yessoufou — assuming he commits to Arizona — would land in Tucson ahead of the 2025-26 season next year. By that time, Caleb Love and Trey Townsend will have exhausted their eligibility and will be in the 2025 NBA Draft pool.

This means that KJ Lewis would likely take over for Love, and current four/five-star incoming freshman Carter Bryant would have a year of playing experience under his belt. Bryant would be the likely choice to take over at power forward, leaving an opening for Yessoufou to immediately compete to be Arizona's starting small forward in his freshman season.

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