The country of Cameroon has produced some notable NBA players in Luc Mbah a Moute, Pascal Siakam, Joel Embiid, and Christian Koloko. Among prospects with Cameroon roots is 2024 prospect Yves Missi, who was born in Belgium, but raised in Cameroon. In 2021, Missi landed in Maryland, attending West Nottingham Academy (MD) before transferring to powerhouse program Prolific Prep (CA). This season, he helped his team win The Grind Session World Championship and secure a GEICO Nationals bid as well as earn a selection on the World Team at the 2023 Nike Hoop Summit. At 6’11”, Missi is a big man with defensive tools who excels as a rim runner and finisher in the paint.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Missi talked about his unique journey from Cameroon to the U.S., his experience on The Grind Session with Prolific Prep, his commitment to Baylor, and much more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present Baylor commit Yves Missi, from Yaoundé, Cameroon:
Pro Insight: How did you get to where you are today? Talk a bit about your background and family.
Yves Missi: Oh yeah, so I was actually born in Belgium and then we moved back to Cameroon. I lived there. I've been raised in Cameroon probably most of my life. I have four siblings. I have two of them who study in the U.S. — one in Harvard and then the other one in Spring Hill College. I started playing soccer. I didn’t play basketball, at first. Then I saw how moving forward my parents used to play basketball on the National Team, both my mom and my dad and also my brother was playing basketball. So whenever he was coming back for summer, he used to play with the National Team and then from there I started playing basketball and I saw I was getting taller so it was kind of logical to move from soccer to basketball. I started playing and focusing on basketball, and from there I'm committed to Baylor, and I'm going to play college basketball, so it's pretty amazing.
PI: How is Cameroon compared to the United States? How was the transition to living in the U.S.?
YM: It's completely different. I would say people around here are different. The culture is also really different and of course the language, moving from French to English wasn't that easy. I'll say if you talk about basketball, basketball is kind of different. Like people here, the game is way faster. Players are more developed than other players of the same age in Cameroon so it's kind of different.
PI: You played at West Nottingham before Prolific Prep — how would you compare and contrast that experience — playing and being on the East Coast versus the West Coast?
YM: Ohh, just another level like you’re playing a nationally ranked team almost every game. I mean, my first year at West Nottingham Academy, I came in January/February and due to COVID, we only had two games I believe. So I was just kind of getting used to practice, like getting used to the game because I wasn't playing basketball for that long. So I started getting used to it. We played two games. It was really hard. I see literally how the pace is different, how everything is different and then the year after we have like the entire year, I think we had thirty games. You know, we played some good teams. We played Combine [Academy]. We played Scotland Campus. We played some good teams, but compared to this year, it is really different. I feel like this year is a bit more serious. The teams we play are way harder to beat and I think I'm getting better by playing against those types of teams.
PI: Congratulations on The Grind Session World Championship! Talk a bit more about that experience. Anyone in particular you enjoyed playing with on Prolific Prep?
YM: My Prolific teammate…it's probably the other big man, Mike Nwoko, who is committed to Miami. I mean, I don't know. We're just really good friends, but I also love the other guys, like I love the team. I think we have good chemistry and I think we really love each other — like we love playing with each other, so that's actually great. That's probably why we have a good record this year.
PI: Who has been the toughest individual or team matchup you’ve ever faced on The Grind Session?
YM: So I think at the beginning of the year it was kind of hard to move from West Nottingham to Prolific — the levels were just different. So it was kind of harder and then I started picking it up and the toughest team we played this year in The Grind Session, I would probably say Dream City Christian — the team we beat to win the championship game. Just the way they play, like they play with their heart, they’re tough — so it was probably the hardest game we played. The toughest matchup as a big…I don't really know, to be honest. I feel like everyone was pretty much the same thing. I think I played pretty well against all of them, so I don't think there was one specific match where I was like “oh, this guy is really, really good.”
PI: Besides soccer, did you play any other sports growing up?
YM: Soccer was definitely the main sport, all the time.
PI: Who is your favorite soccer player?
YM: Ah, I'll say the G.O.A.T., Lionel Messi, definitely my favorite soccer player of all time. But right now I’d say my favorite team is PSG and my player right now is Mbappé whose dad is actually from Cameroon.
PI: Are there any other particular athletes you look up to from Cameroon?
YM: Oh yeah, I mean, we have a lot in Cameroon like you said. We also have a Pascal Siakam, who's actually the only Cameroon player who won the NBA championship. We also have Christian Koloko, who's playing with Pascal Siakam and the Raptors. So Christian Koloko, for example, played for Arizona last year. I look up to someone like him who moved from college to the NBA, who's actually doing good. Just looking up to players like that and I've been close with some of these guys, so it's just great getting advice from people like them who have experience and that's pretty much it.
PI: For those who aren’t familiar with your game, what are your greatest strengths and playstyle?
YM: I would say I’m a pretty good defender. I can pretty much guard one-through-five. I'm a good shot-blocker. On offense, I'm someone who can put the ball on the floor, who can drive, who can grab rebounds, who gets a lot of putbacks, who got some I'll say, decent foot work, good touch around the rim. I’m also a rim runner.
PI: Who do you model your game after or study on film?
YM: I love Giannis Antetokounmpo. I love his game, so that's probably one of the guys I'm definitely looking up to.
PI: What are your current measurements?
YM: My weight is around 225 pounds. My height, I would say I’m 7”, but I'm gonna keep saying 6’11” (laughs). My wingspan is about 7’2”, 7’3”.
PI: What do you feel you still need to improve on the most? What have you been working on?
YM: Definitely putting the ball on the floor, driving, reading the offense, moving the ball, and actually seeing the court a little bit different. I mean just try getting my team involved besides scoring or driving or just regular shots. I'm also trying to improve my free throw percentage, my three-point percentage. I'm also trying to improve on being a better passer.
PI: What are your short term goals you have for yourself as a player?
YM: Definitely winning GEICO, that's the main goal right now. We have one week of preparation and then we have GEICO. So my goal right now is to win GEICO.
PI: Describe your experience with PSA Cardinals.
YM: It was good playing for Coach Terrance “Munch”. He tells me a lot about having a motor all the time and playing hard. Also playing with good teammates such as Boogie Fland, Danny Carbuccia, Jason Schofield. It was also a great environment playing EYBL. It’s a different type of environment, AAU and high school basketball, but I definitely learned a lot so it’s been a good experience.
PI: Have you read the book Our PSA, yet?
YM: I started it, but I didn't finish it. I know Coach Munch is not gonna be happy about it, but I'm sorry (laughing). I'm not the best reader, but sometimes I try to read it.
PI: Moving on to your recent commitment, congratulations! What set Baylor apart? What made them different from the rest of your options?
YM: I love the coaching staff. I love the environment over there. I also like the way they play with big men, how they use their big men. I think I will have a good spot on that team and I’m pretty sure that I can trust Coach Drew with my future and that he'll help me and develop me to be the best player that I can be.
PI: What was Coach Drew and the staff’s reaction when you told him?
YM: Ohh, I actually told them on…I think it was January 1st. We were just getting out of a trip and I just texted them. Everyone was happy. I received a call from almost all the coaches and they were very happy. They said they can’t wait to get to work and it was just an amazing feeling.
PI: Have you been in touch with any former or current Baylor players?
YM: I talked to some of the guys. I have someone who is actually from Cameroon over there who is Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua so I have already talked to him even on my visit. They're great people, so he just gave me some advice on being a better basketball player.
PI: Who did you turn to for guidance throughout the recruiting process? What advice did they share with you?
YM: Definitely my brother. My brother, I mean he went to the U.S. He went to Montverde [Academy]. After Montverde, he actually committed to Harvard. He actually helped me understand what I have to look for in a program. He’s just like one of my role models. Also my dad, and both of them really helped me trust in the process, helping me with my choice, and understanding my point of view. They were just the best mentors I could have.
PI: Have you made the decision whether you will stay in 2024 or reclass to 2023?
YM: I definitely considered going in 2023, but right now I’d say 2024, so we will see at the end of the year.
PI: What are your biggest interests outside of basketball?
YM: Probably just watching soccer, playing soccer or watching UFC. I love watching UFC, UFC fights. I'm a big fan. Also you know, Netflix, just common things.
PI: Who are your favorite music artists?
YM: I don't really listen to US artists. I'm primarily listening to French artists so definitely from France or from Cameron. Some of them are Tiakola, Ninho, Ko-c, LOCKO, and Mr. Leo. So those are some artists that I'm listening to, but I don't think people really know them.
PI: You have one hashtag to describe yourself. What is it?
YM: One hashtag, I would say probably #NeverGiveUp or #TrustTheProcess. Definitely one thing you have to look up to is never giving up. Maybe it’s not going to work out this time, the next time we fix it or we get better at it and you're gonna change it, then you're probably gonna be successful at some point in life. But to be successful, you have to go through some mistakes. It’s definitely one of the hashtags I would say I definitely use.
PI: If you weren’t pursuing a career as a professional hooper, what do you think you would choose to do?
YM: I don't know yet, to be honest. I still don’t even know what I want to study in college, to be honest. I’m still trying to figure it out, but I know I’m interested in space or something like agriculture. Just some type of environment, anything related to earth, I'll say.
PI: What’s your biggest pet peeve?
YM: Whenever I'm in my bubble and then people try to talk to me too much, I don't like it. Sometimes I just like to be in my bubble and don't interact with other people that much.
PI: Are you an introvert or extrovert?
YM: Yeah, definitely just chilling and being by myself sometimes. I also like being around people, but just sometimes when I need it.
PI: Talk about a time or story in your life that you feel has really shaped who you are today.
YM: I said earlier about never giving up. So when I was trying to get to the US, I got my visa denied by the U.S. Embassy in Cameroon and it was really frustrating. That was probably one of my biggest frustrations that I had to overcome. Like I think I was ready. I had all the documents necessary, but I just got denied and then I was thinking about giving up, but just talking to my parents and then reapplying again for another time and that's the reason why I came pretty much late as I came in January instead of August at the beginning of the school year. So just like never give up and I trusted the process. It wasn't easy at all because I had to be virtual and then with the jet lag, my school finished way later than what it should be. In my school, I think school used to start at 8:00 PM in Cameroon and finish around 1:00 AM because of the time difference so it wasn't that easy, but I had to do it for 3-4 months. And yeah, I got my visa in the end. When I got my visa, I was really happy and it was definitely one of those moments I'm like, “Oh, I almost gave up. But just by trusting the process and keep believing it, I made it and here I am.”
PI: What is your dream NIL deal and why?
YM: Definitely with Nike just to have my own shoes. Making my own shoes, designing them. It is definitely one of my biggest dreams.
PI: Favorite basketball shoe to wear on the court?
YM: I didn't play with Nike shoes recently because Prolific is sponsored by Adidas for a long time, but I definitely think any Kobes you give me, I will definitely love them. They’re really comfy, so definitely the Kobes.
PI: Have you looked into representing Cameroon on the international stage?
YM: I would definitely love to represent Cameron. It’s definitely one of my goals to play on the national team at least once. I mean, whenever they call me, I will try to come and play with them, so I'm just waiting.
PI: How about Belgium?
YM: I have citizenship in Cameroon. I can get one from Belgium, but I mean I haven't been there in a long time so I'm not really looking for it, but it's definitely a possibility for me to play with Belgium at some point, too.
PI: Name four words that best describe you.
YM: I'll say smart. Somebody that people love to be around. Kindness. And the last one would definitely be…caring for each other, like for other people. Definitely my family.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you hope to be remembered for?
YM: As a player, just try to be the best I can. I just want people to remember he was someone who actually played hard, who was good at basketball, who had a winning mentality. And as a person, I would say…I mean, if I'm in the position to be able to help other people, I will definitely be someone who helps other people who accomplish either, like helping people in Africa or in Cameroon by building courts or hospitals, definitely something like that as a person.