Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ashcraf Yacoubou- He's For Real

American Christian Academy (PA) is losing its best player, senior Tyreke Evans, but replacing him will be a talented freshman. If you recall, in an earlier article on Northstar Basketball, I reported ACA Head Coach Tony Bergeron's high praise for the class of 2011 star: "The only thing that held him back [this season] was that Tyreke Evans played the same position." I had the opportunity to see Ashcraf, a 6'4 guard, in action this past weekend at the Providence Jam Fest. Although his U-16 Rich Soil AAU squad was throttled by Team New Jersey ABC in the silver bracket quarterfinals, Yacoubou stood out amongst the talent on the Rich Soil team. I spoke with Ashcraf after the game.

NB: What was it like for you playing behind Tyreke Evans [this] year?
AY: It was good, it was good, I learned a lot.

NB: How do you think it’s going to help you prepare for next season when you’re stepping into more of an . . . [important] role at American Christian?
AY: I really don’t know. . . . This year, . . . I played some games [and] some days I didn’t, but the game I didn’t play [in], I learned. [It was a] learning experience.

NB: What was it like for you having to sit out some of those games? Did you ever consider heading to another school where you could play more, or were you always just focused on ‘I’m learning and I’m getting better’?
AY: Yeah, I always focused on ‘I’m learning, I’m getting better, and I’m a freshman, so I got to wait my turn.’

NB: What do you think the team’s going to be able to accomplish next season? . . . I know you . . . are moving out of the prep level, what are you going to be able to do at the high school level?
AY: I think we [will] do alright.

NB: What do you consider to be the forte of your game?
AY: How I can shoot the jump-shot.

NB: What do you think you need to work on the most?
AY: My defense and my stamina.

NB: Have you been getting any college interest as of now?
AY: Yeah.

NB: What schools have been showing interest in you early [on]?
AY: Memphis, Oklahoma St., Villanova, and some more.

NB: Has anyone offered you [a scholarship] thus far?
AY: Memphis.

NB: What was it like for you when that first offer came in?
AY: I was just happy, I was relieved. I just, I felt like committing my freshman year, but it’s too early.

NB: Where do you think you want to go?
AY: I don’t know yet.

NB: Is there . . . either a team or a conference, anyplace you’ve always dreamed of playing [for]?
AY: No, not really. Let me see, I think [the] Big East [or the] ACC. That’s it, that’s about it.

The Rich Soil team features four of the top 30 freshman, as ranked by The Hoop Scoop Online (, in 5'10 guard Tavon Sledge of St. Benedict's (NJ), 6'2 guard Najee Whitehead of Mt. Vernon (NY), 6'2 guard Davontay Grace of Jefferson (NY), and Yacoubou. Thus, it's impressive that Ashcraf was easily the best of the bunch against NJABC. Although he did not score that many points, Yacoubou was solid at the point, had a stellar shot, got to the rack, has good height, and is nice playmaker. Yacoubou might not be able to fill Tyreke Evans' shoes next year, but he is certainly mightily talented and will cause a stir as his recruitment heats up over the next three years.

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