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Youssef Khayat eager to set foot in Ann Arbor

The incoming freshman is ready to hit the ground running.

Michigan v Villanova Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

A late addition to the Michigan Wolverines’ roster for the 2022-23 season is incoming true freshman forward Youssef Khayat. The 6-foot-9, 195-pounder from Lebanon committed to Juwan Howard and the program earlier this summer, despite never stepping foot in Ann Arbor for any visit.

He has had an interesting journey to college basketball, and he hopped on U-M’s “Defend the Block” podcast this week.

Khayat did this podcast remotely, as he was still in Lebanon. However, two days ago, the Michigan basketball Twitter account tweeted a video of Khayat meeting up with the team during their European trip.

Boesch started off the interview very simply by asking Khayat about his love for basketball.

“(In) Lebanon, basketball is really famous here,” said Khayat. “Every corner you can hear people talking about basketball. About the national team, about the team. From the start of my young career, I was always watching basketball. Watching the NBA, watching your league, watching college basketball, and so that helped me a lot.”

When asked about his favorite players, Khayat gave a familiar answer to metro Detroiters.

“Blake Griffin, for me, was my childhood hero. I was coming back from school giving Blake alley-oops,” he said. “I was imagining myself giving him alley-oops, me being in the Lob City team with Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, Jamal Crawford, JJ Redick. So that Clippers team helped me a lot, which is kind of weird because there’s not a lot of Clippers fans. But you know in Lebanon, nobody cares. I just watched the team throw some lobs and I immediately fell in love with them and the game of basketball.”

They then talked specifically about Youssef’s decision to go to Michigan, despite never having met in person with anyone from the university.

“It’s kind of weird because I didn’t meet them,” said Khayat. “I still didn’t meet them. So just hearing from them and hearing from people how great they are and how great the community is. As you know, in Michigan there’s a lot of Lebanese people. I asked a lot of people how they think about the city and about the community and all I heard was the positive stuff. For me, this immediately felt at home.”

Khayat also spoke glowingly of Michigan’s track record for getting international players. When asked about his style of basketball, Khayat echoed a sentiment we have heard from most of this freshman class:

“I’m someone who gives his all always,” he said. “I’m always giving 100% on defense and on offense. I’m someone who runs the court and who like to penetrate and who loves shooting, too. With the national team, I had this job to always guard the best players, so this helped me a lot. Especially in the last couple months, where I was always in practice and in the matches to guard the best. So I’m someone who’s always willing to defend, take the steals, take risks. I love playing defense.”