Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Mouphtaou Yarou, a 6-10, 240-pound power forward from Montrose Christian whose commitment to Villanova in August was broken here at ZAGSBLOG, signed his Letter of Intent on Friday, completing a three-man recruiting class considered among the best in the Big East .
“We had to get Mouph to sign his Letter of Intent and then we had to get it faxed to the Republic of Benin in Africa, and get his mother to sign it there and get it faxed back,” Villanova coach Jay Wright told ESPNU. “The guys at Montrose Christian, coach Stu Vetter, just two minutes ago [Friday] got it up here and got it to our compliance officer.”
Yarou is part of a three-man class that includes Philly Roman Catholic point guard Maalik Wayns and 6-7, 178-pound power forwardIsaiah Armwood of Montrose Christian. Recruiting expert Tom Konchalski says Villanova may have the best recruiting class in the Big East.
“Sometimes the ones that are closest seem like the easiest,” Wright said of Wayns. “Maalik committed at the end of his sophomore year. He grew up in Philly, plays at Roman Catholic and was always around our program. He was a guy we fell in love with and when they’re young you hoped he was going to be good enough. By the end of his sophomore, there was no doubt. After he verbally committed his sophomore year, everybody had every reason for him to change his mind.
“He’s a great leader and an outstanding player but most of all I’m so appreciative of his loyalty because I just know how much pressure was on him throughout that process and we’re really psyched to have him.”
How does Wayans compare to Randy Foye and Kyle Lowery and other previous Nova guards?
“I think Maalik has a chance…he’s got some of the best of both Kyle and Randy,” Wright said. “He’s got close to Randy’s size and close to the basketball intelligence and competitiveness of Kyle. Maalik has got both and we’re really excited about him.”
Villanova picked up two players from Montrose Christian, Yarou and Armwood.
“Isaiah we recruited for a long time,” Wright said. “He’s going to be a really versatile player. He’s a wing player that’s 6-8, 6-9 and is athletic. He puts it on the floor, he’s got great quickness and he’s another competitive kid. This summer he stayed around didn’t play a lot of AAU ball. He worked on his game with Coach Vetter at Montrose, and he worked on his academics.”
Yarou came to the U.S. in January and committed to Villanova before transferring from Massanutten (Va.) Military School. He is ranked No. 5 among power forwards in the Class of 2009 by Rivals and No. 14 overall. He was named Co-Outstanding Player of the NBA East segment of the Hoop Group Elite camp at The College of New Jersey, along with West Virginia commit Dalton Pepper. An athletic, mobile big man, he dropped 22 and 12 on UAB commit Demarcus Cousins in one game at another event.
“He could definitely be one of the best,” said Chris Timba, Yarou’s guardian. “His plan is to be the No. 1 player in the country by the end of the year. His goal is to be the best. He has soft hands, big hands, he can shoot a little bit outside, can shoot inside, can shoot the 10-footer, can put it on the floor a little bit. You’re talking about a big-time player.”
Wright is happy that Armwood and Yarou are playing together this year.
“Mouph was in D.C. for the summer and came there and worked out with those guys and all of a sudden, bam they’re playing together,” the coach said. “Mouph actually committed to us before he went to Montrose. Now they’re playing together and they’re the two best players on their high school team and they’re going to have a year together.
“So to bring them in here in this class and have them play together for a year is going to be a great advantage for us.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.