Yarou illness, Colenda departure cause ‘Cats to lose two players

Nathan McGann

Once considered a strength of Jay Wright’s No. 3 ranked Wildcats, depth is increasingly becoming an issue.

The team announced Tuesday that freshman forward Mouphtaou Yarou would be out indefinitely after being diagnosed with hepatitis B. The statement comes after a Fox Sports report announced Yarou, a star recruit from Benin, would miss the entire season due to a serious illness. The team has put no timetable on Yarou’s return.

The 6-foot-10-inch big man came to the Main Line with high expectations, and he started for the Wildcats in their season opener against Fairleigh Dickinson and again in their second game against Big 5 rival Penn. In those two games, Yarou averaged five points and four rebounds.

Yarou accompanied the team on its flight to Puerto Rico for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Tip-Off, but was sent back to Philadelphia for further testing before any games were played. As rumors on campus escalated as to the severity of Yarou’s illness, the team continued to refuse comment until any confirmation from the doctors. Yarou is currently receiving treatment from team physician Dr. Frank Furman.

“We are disappointed for Mouph,” said Wright in an official statement Tuesday. “We know that he is receiving great care from Dr. Furman and some of the best specialists in this field. Mouph’s health is our foremost concern.”

Yarou was expected to help fill the team’s biggest need this season – the frontcourt. After the departures of senior forwards Dante Cunningham, Shane Clark and Dwayne Anderson, the Wildcats were left with just one frontcourt player from a season ago in junior forward Antonio Peña. With averages of 20 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks per game in his senior year of high school, Yarou was one of the most-heralded new additions to the team.

Along with Yarou, the Wildcats also lost senior guard Jason Colenda, who left the team to pursue academic interests. Colenda, a walk-on, left the team prior to the La Salle game this past Saturday. He appeared in one of the team’s five games this season.

Overall, Colenda closes his career as a Wildcat having played 28 games in just over three seasons. The walk-on from Fairfax, Va., scored his first career points last season when he sank two free throws in the team’s NCAA tournament game against UCLA.

The departures of Yarou and Colenda leave the Wildcats with just 11 healthy players. Of those 11, only four are listed as forwards or centers.