’Nova big man just happy to be playing

Mouphtaou Yarou had never been more excited to play basketball. The anticipation was enough to make him smile on a daily basis. After last season, you could understand why.

Villanova’s 6-foot-10 sophomore center missed 11 games last season with hepatitis and wasn’t sure if he’d even play again.

“You’re told you’ve got this illness and you don’t understand why. Slowly, I got better and got my strength back,” Yarou said. “When I knew I could play again, it was so great. I was in a great mood all the time.”

Yarou returned to the Wildcats’ lineup on Jan. 6. In the first round of the NCAA tournament, Yarou scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds.

“It was that game which told me I was getting back to the player I knew I could be,” Yarou said. “I was very confident on the court.”

This year, Yarou has averaged 9.2 points and 7.7 rebounds. He scored 14 points in the Wildcats’ 78-74 win over Temple.

“The coaches have been telling me how important defense and rebounding are for this team,” Yarou said. “To be honest, I’m just so happy to be playing. I feel like my potential is there to really contribute to this team.”

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