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Achraf Yacoubou Identifies Himself, His Game, and His Mindset On Recruiting; UK Scores In-Home Visit With Harris Family

Before we get to know Achraf Yacoubou a little better, it’s probably important to know exactly how to pronounce the name. It’s Ash-craf Yuh-coo-boo, but his friends just call him Ash. College coaches have been learning the name as well and Yacoubou says that this summer was the first time he really started to notice some of the big time coaching names watching his performances. At this point, he says that Connecticut, Villanova, Kentucky, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Wisconsin and Wake Forest have sent offers his way. UConn, Villanova and Kentucky are really making an effort to land him.

“Those aren’t really my top three, but those are the three that are really coming at me hard,” Yacoubou said on Tuesday.

He’s already been to UConn and Villanova, where he plans on making return trips, and will also be attending UK’s Midnight Madness this year. “I really just want to see the atmosphere, how big the school is, what their business school is like, things like that,” he said. Business is something that he plans on majoring in, but a family atmosphere will also be one of the selling points for Yacoubou, who wants to find a school with a more home-like vibe.

On his visit to Connecticut and the feelings that he has toward their university, Yacoubou explained, “I like the atmosphere, I like their coach and I really like the players they have there.” He echoed the same feelings for Villanova by saying, “I like their business school, Jay Wright’s a really cool guy and I also like their players too.”

Although Yacoubou has been quoted in the past as saying that the Big East and the ACC are two conferences that stick out to him, he says that it really isn’t because of location or prominence. “It’s not really a location. I just like an uptempo style, getting out and running,” he pointed out.

UK’s John Calipari is known for that exact style and definitely isn’t a new character for Yacoubou, who spent his season at American Christian in Pennsylvania backing up Calipari’s former player and NBA lottery pick, Tyreke Evans. Seeing what Calipari did with his former teammate should be an advantage for the Cats in their pursuit of Yacoubou.

“Yeah, that’s definitely something that I think about,” he explained, when speaking about Calipari’s habit of placing guards in the NBA. With Tyreke’s situation in particular, Yacoubou said, “I got to see that [Calipari] makes pros and that he really makes people better.” He also noted Calipari’s success in other areas, saying, “I like how far [his teams] usually get in the tournament.”

The young 2011 combo guard still remains close with Tyreke, saying that they talk every once in awhile, but the NBA star has yet to speak to him about joining Calipari’s roster at UK, although Yacoubou does plan on getting some pointers from Tyreke on Calipari’s style later down the road.

Since Tyreke left American Christian, the school has closed down its high school section and Yacoubou has moved on to Long Island Lutheran, the former home of another UK recruit Tobias Harris. Although Harris will be suiting up for Half Hollow Hills in Dix Hills, NY next year, Yacoubou remains in contact with Harris too. When asked if he could see himself playing alongside Harris in college, who is getting recruited by a lot of the same schools, Yacoubou said, “Yeah, I wouldn’t mind that,” but that situation isn’t something that the two star athletes really plan on making a priority at this point in time.

Although Yacoubou is one of the top guards in the class of 2011, having been ranked by Scout as the 12th best shooting guard and Rivals placing him in the top 40 regardless of position, little has been written on him to date. So who is Achraf Yacoubou exactly?

“I grew up in the Bronx and started out playing high school at American Christian then moved on to Long Island Lutheran,” he explained. “When Tyreke left [American Christian] they shut down,  so I looked at LI and I liked it.”

Yacoubou’s mindset seems to be geared toward basketball success. When asked what he likes to do outside of the game, he paused and eventually said, “Nothing really.” “When I’m not playing basketball I’m just working out and trying get better.” Over the summer, he did exactly that and says that he really saw an improvement in his ball handling skills and defense.

Yacoubou isn’t sure right now when the decision will come but if he does suit up for the Cats in the future, here’s what he says fans can expect to see on the court: “They’ll see a tough player that never gives up. Tough defense with a will to win.” I don’t think there’s a group of fans anywhere, Lexington included, that wouldn’t want to see that sort of game, along with a work ethic like Yacoubou’s, on their side of the court.

UK will be taking a trip up to NY for an in-home visit with Tobias Harris on September 9th, according to Tobias’ father Torrel. UK was late jumping in on this one but they seem to be giving their full effort to make up ground with the kid by spending an early in-home sit down with the Harris family. This kid is versatile and has mis-match written all over him.

Other recruiting news:

Marquis Teague did a little Q&A with Slam Magazine which was pretty entertaining.Teague keeps UK in his top five, where he placed them after they extended an offer, and should be a visitor on campus in the very near future. More on that to come in the Friday post…

– Also, don’t expect CJ to visit this weekend. He’s attending the Boost Mobile Elite 24 in NYC and that throws a little wrench in the plans. We’ll keep ya updated though.

– Jody Demling spoke with Chane Behanan‘s future head coach at Bowling Green, DG Sherrill, who says that UK has called to check in on Behanan. Oklahoma State has already offered Behanan a scholarship.

– Friend of the site and basketball whiz-kid, Evan Daniels of Scout.com, reports that Jelan Kendrick has tranferred from Westlake High in Atlanta, GA to Wheeler high in Marietta, GA. Although he isn’t really a top UK recruit at the moment, those of you living in the Georgia area might need that bit of information if you’re wanting to watch one of the better point-forward/wings in the country.

– Evan also gets the scoop on 2011 sharpshooter Damien Leonard, who says he will be visiting four schools within the next month and UK is one of them. Me and Damien have a love/hate relationship. I love his pretty stroke with the high release, but I hate the fact that whenever I get the chance to watch, he’s always just a little off. I’ve still yet to see  one of his light’s out shooting performances.

Article written by Dustin Rumbaugh

I enjoy basketball, Kentucky sports and extremely short walks on the beach, followed by a nap. Sorry ladies, I'm taken.