Villanova Wildcats’ freshman forward/center Mouphtaou Yarou has been cleared to practice. He was diagnosed with Hepatitis B in late November. Head coach Jay Wright initially thought that the 6-9 Yarou was out for the season.
The eighth ranked Wildcats could really use Yarou. The team gets great perimeter play, but could use an interior presence. At 6-9, he is the second tallest player on the team (freshman forward/center Maurice Sutton is 6-11). Yarou was ranked as the 18th best recruit in the nation coming into the season by ESPN.
He only played in the Wildcats’ first two games before missing time, playing 37 minutes combined in those two games. The games (both home against Farleigh Dickinson and Pennsylvania) were blowouts, as Villanova won them by 61 points combined. Yarou is set to return during the Big East conference season, and will have to get accustomed to the college game while playing in probably the best conference in the nation.
Villanova can really score the basketball, as it has scored 83.7 points per game as a team. Their record stands at 12-1, with their lone loss coming at Temple. The team got senior guard Reggie Redding back after the Temple loss, which was the Wildcats’ tenth game. Redding was suspended for the first semester for marijuana possession. He’s one of the team’s best on-ball defenders. The 6-5 Redding has averaged 14.0 points and 7.7 rebounds per game in his first three games, which would easily be career highs if he can maintain those numbers.
Senior guard Scottie Reynolds and junior guards Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes give the Wildcats a trio of good, experienced players in the backcourt. Freshmen guards Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek are two talented young players that have each seen substantial minutes in their first seasons, and will become major contributors in the future for Villanova.
The team’s frontcourt is led by 6-8, 235 pound junior forward Antonio Pena and 6-6, 230 pound sophomore forward Taylor King, who transferred to Villanova after spending his freshman season with the Duke Blue Devils. Pena is a bruiser that leads the team in rebounding, but can also score (12.4 points per game), while King is a fantastic three-point shooter (25 made three-pointers on 46.3% shooting from behind the arc). Freshmen forward/center Maurice Sutton and forward Isaiah Armwood are two more talented first year players that have seen substantial minutes.
Villanova made the Final Four last year and may have gotten better. Yarou won’t be asked to be a star, but the Wildcats could use some help in the frontcourt, and he’s talented enough to provide them with it.
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