Youssef Khayat is the Steal of Michigan's 2022 Class
Scouting Juwan Howard's newest commitment and looking at the (probably) completed 2022-23 roster position-by-position.
Juwan Howard filled Michigan’s final open scholarship on Sunday when Youssef Khayat, a Lebanese prospect in the 2022 class, committed to the Wolverines over Xavier, DePaul, and Wake Forest. He made his announcement and explained his decision — helpfully transcribed by The Michigan Insider — on the Field of 68 podcast:
Khayat, a native of Beirut, played the last four seasons for the Limoges CSP Under-21 team in France’s top U-21 league. Depending on where you look, he’s listed at anywhere between 6’7 and 6’10 with a plus wingspan. He should be able to play power forward and moonlight at small forward at the Big Ten level.
This won’t be the last time Khayat’s prospect profile is reminiscent of Franz Wagner.
Scouting Youssef Khayat
Instincts. This is a general observation that’s critical to the excitement around Khayat. He appears to have a strong understanding of the game and a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
Scoring as secondary player. Khayat shows off those instincts as a cutter. He moves well off the ball, creating open passing lanes both at the basket and on the perimeter. He can shoot jumpers off of movement — he hit 35% of his 158 three-point attempts in 2021-22.
He also attacks effectively in transition. Khayat knows how to find space and then finish — even though he’s not an explosive vertical athlete, he gets the job done around the rim. While he drives in both directions, he’s very right-hand dominant when he shoots, even on layups, which will be something to work on.
Floater. While Khayat doesn’t often blow by his defender (more on that later), he uses his length and touch to make that less necessary. He doesn’t need much space to get his floater up and he seems to hit it at a solid rate — he made 48% of his two-pointers last season.
Defense. The highlight videos don’t focus on defense, so I’ll quote Eurohoops on this:
Moreover, Khayat has tremendous defensive upside thanks to his motor, willingness to sit in a stance, lateral movements and instincts. He projects as someone who could potentially guard both forwards positions at the high major D-1 level and switch onto guards out on the perimeter. He’s not afraid of diving for loose balls and regularly makes winning plays.
At a lanky 6’8-6’10, Khayat can be a disruptive and switchable defender in the (you guessed it) Franz Wagner mold.
Nickname. “Yo-Yo” is a keeper.
Areas For Development
Strength and vertical. Any tall, skinny prospect is going to need some time in the weight room before certain matchups won’t give them trouble. Khayat also needs some Camp Sanderson work on his vertical leap; his finishes tend to be below the rim and he doesn’t block as many shots as you’d expect from a player with his length.
Shot creation. Khayat doesn’t appear to be a pick-and-roll creator and his isolation game is limited. He doesn’t show a particularly tight handle or first step capable of getting him past defenders. There are flashes, though, of a scorer who can use his length and precision to make up for average explosiveness.
He has a few pretty passes in his highlights. Again, though, they were limited in quantity — he averaged 1.8 assists and 2.2 turnovers per game in 2021-22. While he’s unlikely to develop into a primary playmaker, he needs to develop as a distributor to keep defenses honest.
Shooting consistency. According to Proballers, this was the first season Khayat made over 31% of his three-pointers. His mechanics look fine and he attempted a healthy number of outside shots, so there’s reason to believe in last season’s 35% mark, but there’s a chance that — like with Wagner — there’s a gap between how good his shot looks and how often it goes in.
Perhaps more worrisome are Khayat’s struggles from the free throw line. He was 81/121 (66.9%) at the stripe in 2021-22 and that’s in line with his career numbers. Whether mental or mechanical, there’s something to be worked out of his system.
Screens. Some of the picks in his highlights are intentional slips but others just feature a total lack of actual contact. He can help his guards out more on these pick-and-pops before he hunts his own shot.
This is a great pickup even before accounting for the stage of the recruiting cycle (very, very late). Khayat should develop into a dangerous stretch four with the versatility to fit into multiple roles. He can make an impact early as a catch-and-shoot threat who shouldn’t be a negative on defense, then take on a greater offensive role as he improves and finds his footing in the college game.
While I’m not sure Khayat has Wagner’s lottery-pick upside, he has All-Big Ten potential if he sticks around for at least a couple years before looking to the pro ranks.
Michigan’s 2022-23 Roster Breakdown
Now that the roster is hopefully set for 2022-23, let’s run through it position-by-position.
Princeton transfer Jaelin Llewellyn is expected to start. He was an effective scorer whose assist numbers were held back by an offense averse to ball screens. We’ve seen up-transfer point guards need some time to get acclimated to Michigan the last two seasons; after the adjustment period, Mike Smith and DeVante’ Jones both became valuable starters.
Diminutive but explosive top-100 freshman Dug McDaniel is the backup. It’s natural to compare him to outgoing transfer Frankie Collins; McDaniel appears ahead of Collins was at the same stage on offense but hasn’t shown as much defensive acumen.
Sophomore Kobe Bufkin is all but locked in as the starter unless his development falls flat. He’s the only true two-guard on the roster. He had his moments backing up the player Michigan could least afford to take off the court (non-Dickinson division) in Eli Brooks.
Llewellyn can play both guard positions, which may make him the primary backup here by default. Michigan can get away with a three-guard rotation of Llewellyn, Bufkin, and McDaniel, and a couple of their small forwards could help out in a pinch.
Top-40 freshman Jett Howard should start and make an immediate splash. He’s reputedly one of the best shooters in his class and boasts the playmaking ability to be a lead ballhandler on occasion, a critical attribute given the thin backcourt depth.
Duke transfer Joey Baker will provide high-level shooting. Should something happen to one of the guards, Baker could slide into the starting lineup while Howard moves down to shooting guard.
Juwan Howard also has redshirt freshman Isaiah Barnes, a former four-star, at his disposal. Terrance Williams II played a lot of small forward last year, and while I believe he fits much better at power forward, he can eat up some minutes here. So could Khayat. This is one spot where depth won’t be a concern.
Williams looks like the no-doubt starter at the four. As I wrote earlier this offseason, that should be a huge benefit to both him and the team — Michigan was much better in 2021-22 when Williams played PF rather than SF:
The backup situation is murky. This could be where Khayat best fits as a freshman. Will Tschetter is a more traditional power forward who’s coming off a redshirt year. Four-star freshman Gregg Glenn is comparable to Williams, a 6’6 grinder with some shooting and passing ability. I could see all of them getting a shot to stick in the rotation before the season is out.
Hunter Dickinson will play 30-35 minutes per game at an All-American level, which is nice.
The rest of the center minutes should go to top-40 freshman Tarris Reed, who 247 says should immediately become one of the best backup big men in the conference. While it may only work situationally, Michigan could even play Dickinson and Reed next to each other.
Tschetter could also provide spot minutes at the five. You rarely get through a season without learning who is the third-string center.