Michigan men’s basketball coach Juwan Howard took some time to talk to the media earlier this week before the team heads to France and Greece for their international trip next week.
During that time, Howard mentioned the first game on their international trip will be against a French team that has four players who have NBA experience. It will be a great opportunity for the whole roster to get this experience, but especially the incoming freshmen class.
One of those guys is Lebanese forward Youssef Khayat, who is expected to play a key role with the Michigan Wolverines this year. Recently helping Lebanon advanced to the finals in the FIBA Asia Cup, Khayat is a versatile wing who can knock down the three and be a key depth piece on both sides of the floor.
Howard confirmed Khayat has not yet practiced with the team, and he wouldn’t explicitly say the Lebanese prospect will meet up with the team during the trip overseas.
“Unfortunately we haven’t had Youssef here, but I’ll tell you this, Youssef will be joining us very soon,” Howard said.
Expanding on how he expects the young guys to fit into this culture, Howard spoke highly of Khayat’s ability to stretch the floor.
“Youssef is very dynamic, bigger wing, and I say bigger because he is 6’9-ish, close to 6’10,” Howard said. “He can shoot from the outside, you can play him at multiple positions because of his versatility, (he’s) athletic. But he’s also a high-IQ player too, and I think that’s very valuable.”
Howard admitted he hasn’t seen Khayat play in person, but he’s impressed from the full game film of him he’s watched. He went on to outline the timeline of Khayat’s recruitment.
“I started recruiting him when Caleb (Houstan) and Moussa (Diabate) decided to keep their names in the draft,” Howard said. “Knowing that we would have two available scholarships right away, I identified that Youssef was our guy who fits. All hands on deck when I went to recruit him. I see a guy who can be huge, valuable part of this group and a team that’s all in.”
When asked how many minutes Khayat is expected to play, Howard didn’t have a definitive answer but reiterated the importance of adding him to a team desperate for three-point shooting last year.
“With what he presents from a skill level, as I touched on earlier, we need him,” Howard said. “We need him, it’s that simple. There’s a difference between need and want — when you need something, that’s a big difference and that’s how I identify him, that’s my definition.”
Howard mentioned the team is only allowed to practice 10 times before taking the trip. He didn’t say exactly when the team departs, but did mention they’ll practice Friday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday before leaving.