by Jeremy Bauman / @JBauman13
Over the past half decade, Villanova head coach Jay Wright has built a program that thrives off the steady play of his guards. With a pressure-until-they-crumble philosophy on defense and a penetrate-and-kick offense (simplified, of course) the Wildcats have elevated their program to new levels of success and seemingly upped their expectations year-in and year-out.
From Kyle Lowry to Scottie Reynolds, Curtis Sumpter to Corey Stokes, Mike Nardi to Corey Stokes, Randy Foye to Dominic Cheek, Reggie Redding to Malik Wayns, Villanova has done a remarkable job bringing in exactly the kind of player it wants to. Smart, quick, clever, athletic and able to score the rock are the common denominators between all of these players who have helped Villanova to reach its most consistent success rate in the program’s history.
Well, the staff has definitely looked to keep the trend rolling. You know the old adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” right? Well that seems to be the motto that Wright & Co. are using to lure their recruits to Villanova. With a steady flow of talented guards and an up and down pace, Villanova can sell its program to recruits based on proof.
One of their three incoming recruits is 6-4 senior scoring guard Ashraf Yacoubou from Long Island Lutheran in New York. Right from the get go, Yacoubou sensed that Villanova was the fit for him thanks to the aforementioned style of play and commitment to developing its guards. Yacoubou is a very talented player who made his way on to the national recruiting radar as a freshman in high school with his stellar crossover, ability to attack the rim with strength, and knockdown jumper from deep.
SLAM: What are your goals for the upcoming season?
Ashraf Yacoubou: My goal for this season is to be the best player I can be and win another state championship.
SLAM:You committed to college early in your junior season. What exactly did you see in Villanova and why did you decide to take your game there so early?
AY: I chose Nova because I like the business school and I like coach Wright and how he get guards ready.
SLAM: What other options did you have? Why did you rule them out so early?
AY: My top three was UConn, Kentucky and Nova and had about 20-something offers a lot of Big East and ACC but I chose Nova because I felt real comfortable there.
SLAM: How did the influence that successful guards seem to come out of Villanova every year in that four-guard attack helped to lure you to the program?
AY: Because I see how coach Wright gets tough guards ready, and I’m a tough guard so I want to be next on that list.
SLAM: You live in Long Island. Who do you live with? Who are some of the role models in your life right now and who have you looked up to until this point?
AY: I stay out here in LI with a family friend but I really live in the Bronx, and I look up to my guardian coach Harper, but I call him my father. But, when I grow up, I would like to be a person like him be cause he’s the definition of a real man.
SLAM: Not too many star players come out of Long Island. Have you thought about transferring to play against better competition on a more regular basis?
AY: My freshman year I played in American Christian with Tyreke Evans, so I been playing comp all my life and the school that I’m in now we play comp. A lot of PSAL (NYC Public School) teams, out of state teams and St. Anthony’s in Jersey City. We really don’t play Long Island schools.
SLAM: What players have you tried to model your game after, both pro and in the circuit, and why?
AY: I really don’t try to model anyone I just be myself and I learned in AAU ball that you have to come to play every game because it’s good players almost every game.
SLAM: What are your strengths on the court? What do you need to work on?
AY: My strengths is my shooting and the will to win and my toughness. I need to work on my ball handling cause I can handle, but [I need to] get it more of like a point guard.
SLAM: You have been committed for some time. How do you expect to impact your team at the college level immediately?
AY: By my toughness, will, lock-down defense and shooting.