‘Nova signs three top seniors

Thomas Celona

While the ’08-’09 season has just begun, the men’s basketball program is already preparing for next season by confirming its incoming players. Three top high school seniors have signed letters of intent to play for Villanova beginning in the fall of 2009, Athletics announced on Nov. 14.

These three players are all ranked on the ESPNU 100 list of the top recruits of the high school graduating class of 2009, leading Villanova’s class to be ranked No. 5 on ESPN’s Nov. 13 rankings for the early signing period.

These three players ranked on the ESPNU 100 are Maalik Wayns (No. 22), Mouphtaou Yarou (No. 27) and Isaiah Armwood (No. 35).

“We are as excited about this class as any we have brought to Villanova,” Head Coach Jay Wright said in a press release from Athletics. “This group offers us a unique combination of frontcourt and backcourt talent with exceptional skill and incredible character.”

Wayns, who earned a grade of 96 out of 100 on ESPNU’s recruiting scale, plays guard for Roman Catholic High School in Philadelphia. At 6 feet tall and 185 pounds, Wayns was a strong presence for the Roman Catholic Cahillites, averaging 22.4 points, 5.1 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game in his junior year, according to ESPN.com. Wayns also participated in AAU play for Team Philly, which was coached by former-Wildcat Kyle Lowry’s brother, Lonnie.

“Wayns is the leader of this class,” Wright said in the press release. “He was the first one of this group to commit to us, and he encouraged his friends [Armwood] and [Yarou] to join him at Villanova. Maalik will be the next in the line of great Villanova guards.”

Yarou, who earned a grade of 95 on ESPNU’s recruiting scale, plays for Montrose Christian School in Rockville, Md. The 6-foot-9-inch, 230-pound forward moved to the United States from his home country of Benin in January of 2007. While Moof’, as he is often called, has only been playing in America for a brief time, he highly impressed scouts with his AAU performance for the D.C. Blue Devils this summer.

“Moof’ is as skilled a power forward as any frontcourt recruit we have had at Villanova,” Wright said in the press release. “[He] will make an immediate impact on our team with his rebounding and shot blocking ability.”

Armwood, a classmate of Yarou at Montrose Christian, completes ‘Nova’s group of major signees. The 6-foot-8-inch, 195-pound forward averaged 12 points and eight rebounds during the first half of his junior season before a left knee injury caused him to sit out for the remaining games. Armwood received a grade of 93 on ESPNU’s recruiting scale to go along with his fellow classmates, who also fell in the 90s.