There will be a lot of new faces on the 2022-23 Michigan Wolverines men’s basketball team, and perhaps the player we know the least about is Lebanese recruit Youssef Khayat. At Michigan’s media day last week, Khayat and the coaches shed some light on his recruiting process and how he’s acclimating to college basketball in America thus far.
Khayat told reporters it wasn’t an easy decision for him to come to the states, but the forward with plenty of international playing experience came with one big goal in mind.
“It was a tough decision for me because I had the option to go pro,” Khayat said. “It’s tough to change your country and come to a place you don’t know, but (my family) talked for a lot of hours, lot of days, and I told them I wanted to try the college experience because I think this will help me a lot. Outside of basketball, this will help me a lot. The goal is go to the NBA; I think the the best bet for going to the NBA is going to college.”
Khayat went on to say his family is excited for him, as they wanted it to be his decision alone. While he never got the chance to go on an official visit, he felt the camaraderie and loved what he heard from the coaching staff.
“I didn’t go on a visit, I didn’t have the chance to go on a visit, I didn’t have my Visa...I had my family on the Zoom call and when they saw it was genuine people — you know, coach Juwan, he’s a person’s guy, he’s pretty good — I found that home, and that’s the thing that’s most important to me,” Khayat said. “I’m not going to go to a place where I’m not comfortable. Thank god I chose this place because really, I think this place is the best in the country.”
Khayat was recruited very late in the cycle since the Wolverines didn’t have a scholarship available for him until after Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate chose to stay in the NBA Draft. Assistant coach Saddi Washington spoke on it being a very swift process.
“It was like lightning speed, we were at the point in the year where we were waiting to find out with Moussa (Diabate) and Caleb (Houstan) were going to do with the (NBA) Draft, and we had been working behind the scenes on some plans. And once those guys’ final decisions were made, things expedited with Youssef,” Washington said. “Again, he’s another young guy, talented. He’s been with us a little over a month, but he has a really high learning curve.”
Khayat got the chance to meet his teammates for the first time when they were in Paris for an exhibition game as part of their international trip this summer.
Since he’s been on campus, Khayat has been playing the 3 and the 4 practice. He’s been like a sponge the last few weeks, soaking up whatever knowledge he can.
“The coaches told me what they needed from me,” Khayat said. “There was a lot to catch up on. At first, it was too much a little bit. We started doing a little bit each practice, and right now I’m on pace with the guys, so that’s not a problem. Of course missing the summer practices was tough for me because I wanted to meet the guys and talk to the guys, but fortunately it’s really good right now.”
Ultimately, Michigan’s coaching staff seems very happy with how the process worked out, and they are clearly excited for fans to see how good Khayat can be.
“You beat enough bushes and a couple leaves will fall out,” Washington said. “That’s recruiting — you have to be ready for sudden change, and the life of recruiting never stops. And fortunately for us, he was an individual available that late in the recruiting cycle. We started to identify some international kids because we had basically gone through the high school market at that point. The transfer portal had pretty much dried up for the guys we were looking at, so that’s the next option for us and we’re happy with our selection.”