Welcome to our 2011 Villanova basketball season preview. We're going to be previewing a player per day from here on out - which will take us right up to the first exhibition game against New York Tech. Today, we preview junior Mouph Yarou.
This year on the Main Line, a new regime takes over as leaders of the Wildcats in the form of Dominic Cheek, Maalik Wayns, and Mouphtaou Yarou, who is the feature of this preview post. Coming into Villanova from Montrose Christian, the hype was certainly there, but everyone knew Yarou was very raw since he only started playing basketball in 2004. Soccer was Mouphtaou’s favorite sport growing up in Benin, Africa, and the skills he has acquired on the pitch have helped his footwork and positioning on the basketball court.
As a freshman, the big man was diagnosed with hepatitis B, but returned for the second half of the season, capping it off with 17 points in a win over Robert Morris in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. In Yarou’s sophomore stint, he notched double-double efforts against Big East foes Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, but he did suffer a bruised shoulder and ribs in the Big East Tournament. Fully healed and now a captain, what can we expect from Yarou heading into his junior campaign?
More on Mouphtaou Yarou after The Jump.
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With two years under his belt, Mouph is now one of the de facto premiere big men in the conference, along with Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates and Connecticut’s Alex Oriakhi. Standing at 6’10" and weighing in at 255 lbs. allows Yarou to match up physically with anyone in the country. Sometimes though, he doesn’t use his superior size consistently enough to play at an elite level.
Having been through the rigors of the Big East conference twice now will only aid in the development of Yarou. While some may say he should be fully developed now as an upperclassmen, remember that basketball has only been a part of his life for 7 years, so he’s constantly learning new things on a daily basis. Nonetheless, I expect Yarou, along with Wayns, to really take over this team and program so to speak.
As a captain, it will be up to Mouph to get in the young guys faces, tutor them on and off the court, be a coach on the floor for Jay Wright, and produce hefty numbers. With the offensive scoring a big question mark this year, the pressure is on Yarou to contribute 15 points and close to 10 rebounds a game. His presence in the paint can really set the tone for this squad; those electric blocks he produces really can ignite a team. Furthermore, if he can become a consistent piece of the puzzle down low, the perimeter guys will have more space to operate, create, and shoot.
All in all, barring injury, I expect Mouphtaou Yarou to have a very stellar season and be in line for a potential Big East second or third team selection. What are your expectations for the Villanova captain in 2011-2012?
When we're back tomorrow, we end our player previews with the clear-cut star of this year's squad, Maalik Wayns.
Previous player previews:
- Dallas Ouano & Nick McMahon
- Achraf Yacoubou
- Darrun Hilliard
- Ty Johnson
- Markus Kennedy
- JayVaughn Pinkston
- James Bell
- Dominic Cheek
- Maurice Sutton