Why Memphis basketball recruit Yohan Traore, a 6-10 five-star, is 'not like those regular fives'
Yohan Traore is not like most 6-foot-10, 225-pound high school basketball players.
The Dream City Christian (Glendale, Arizona) senior, who is blessed with a 7-3 wing span and 9-foot standing reach, might give off the impression that he is the prototypical big man. A shot blocker and lane clogger who makes life very difficult for those who try to defend him or those who endeavor to score on him.
While those are also qualities Traore possesses, the five-star center and 10th-ranked recruit in the Class of 2022 assures he’s much more than that.
“I’m not like those regular fives who are only on the block,” said Traore who moved from France to the United States in August 2020, told The Commercial Appeal this week. “I can do pretty much everything on the court. I can defend one through five. Shoot the ball. Go to the basket. Handle the ball. I’m an unselfish player. I’m really good on the boards, blocking shots and everything. I’m really versatile, I would say.”
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That relatively uncommon versatility for a player with Traore’s size has made him an attractive prospect. One that has caught Memphis coach Penny Hardaway’s eye, so much so that he brought Traore in on an official visit last week. Traore was on campus for three days and on hand to observe the Tigers’ first official preseason practice.
Traore – who spent last season at Prolific Prep in Napa, California – has also completed official visits to Michigan, Texas Tech and Kansas. Along with Memphis, he considers those schools as the leaders in his recruitment.
Traore was accompanied by his uncle, Jonathan Muipatayi, on his official visit to Memphis, which included stops at Central BBQ, Fleming’s Steakhouse and Coastal Fish Company – where Traore found one of his favorite dishes: plantains. Traore’s trainer and mentor Daniel Ehambe, who also made the trip, said a late growth spurt is largely to thank for his protégé’s wide range of abilities.
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“Before he came to America, he was about 6-6, 6-7,” said Ehambe. “He grew like four inches. So, he was playing the two and the three over there. He developed great instincts having to handle the ball and shoot the ball as a guard-slash-wing and having to guard twos and threes.”
Ehambe, who describes Traore as a blend of Anthony Davis and Nikola Jokic, added the Memphis coaching staff told them to keep their eyes on senior forward DeAndre Williams at practice.
“They said to pay attention to the way he was playing because that’s how they see (Traore) fitting in,” Ehambe said. “The way (Williams) was picking and popping, posting in the mid-post area, handling the ball, catching on the wing and attacking – that really stuck out to us. ‘Yo’ wants to go somewhere where the staff allows him to play his game.”
The freedom Hardaway and his coaching staff give the Tigers also resonated with Traore and Muipatayi.
“They let the players play their style of play, but they also play five out,” Muipatayi said. “You never know who’s going to have the ball in their hands. They make sure whoever is open, they allow them to play.”
Traore is the latest five-star 2022 prospect to take an official visit to Memphis. The Tigers also hosted senior wing Jordan Walsh (No. 27). Top-30 four-star guard Zion Cruz is scheduled to take an official visit on Oct. 13 during Memphis Madness, while four-star guard Ty Rodgers (No. 54) will be on campus Oct. 15.
Multiple national recruiting reporters have logged predictions in recent days for Traore to eventually commit to Memphis.
“We’re actually getting toward the end of his recruitment,” Muipatayi said. “But, at this point, we’re just going to continue to let him play basketball (and) around spring, we’ll make a decision.”
Reach sports writer Jason Munz at [email protected] or on Twitter @munzly.