Youssef Khayat arrived on Michigan's campus just over two months ago. And despite a quick turnaround, he looks to translate his height and skill into an immediate impact. he'sSelena Sun/Daily. Buy this photo.

When the No. 23 Michigan men’s basketball team returned from its summer trip to Europe, most of the players carried just one bag. They made the return trip to Ann Arbor, an already established home, even for the new freshmen who had been practicing all summer. 

Youssef Khayat had four bags; but that wasn’t all the freshman brought back to Ann Arbor.

He brings with him overseas basketball experience, an infectious personality and an appreciation for simply being a college basketball player that will be invaluable to Michigan. 

“Thank God I chose this place because, really, this place is the best in the country,” Khayat said on Oct. 14. 

After growing up in Lebanon, Khayat and his mother moved to France in 2018 to pursue his professional basketball career. He played in the France-ProA U21 team Limoges, where he averaged 16.8 points per game last season. He also played for the Lebanon National Team, most recently in the 2023 FIBA World Cup qualifying games last November. This past summer he had the option to turn pro, but he made the decision to go to college. 

That decision required a lot of self-reflection. 

“I had the option to turn pro,” Khayat said. “I sat with my family because it’s tough to change a country, to come to a place where you don’t know. I told them I wanted to try the college experience because I think it will help me a lot in basketball and outside of basketball. This will help a lot in my future because the goal is to play in the NBA.” 

Intrigued by the college basketball experience, Khayat sought out advice from former college players who were in similar positions as him. Despite never having visited Michigan during the recruiting process, Khayat was drawn by the genuine conversations he had with coaches.

Khayat touched down in Michigan for the first time when the Wolverines returned from Europe in mid-August. Two months behind in meshing with his teammates on the floor, Khayat had some catching up to do. The team’s trip to Europe, where he first met his teammates, helped with the off-court chemistry, but Khayat still had to acclimate with them on the court.

“Right now I’m on pace with the guys, so that’s not a problem,” Khayat said. “Of course, missing the summer practices was tough for me because I needed to beat the guys in practice.”

Khayat projects to play the three or four but is willing to play at any position. Standing at 6-foot-9, the 19-year-old has been working on his jump shot after struggling early in practice. His acumen comes on the defensive side. 

“Youseff is a badass,” Michigan associate head coach Phil Martelli said at Michigan Media Day. “He’s one of those guys that can really, really, really guard. He is dedicated to guarding. … He is just so anxious to do it right. He struggled early, but he was two months behind us. His perimeter show has come around.”

With a 6-foot-10 wingspan, Khayat has the ability to guard both wings. He can play small when needed and guard the two as well. As one of the nine newcomers to the team, Khayat will be competing for playing time with the likes of sophomore guards Isaiah Barnes and Kobe Bufkin, freshman guard Jett Howard and graduate guard Joey Baker. 

But whatever Khayat’s role on the team shakes out to be, he’s already making his mark. 

“He fits like a glove,” junior guard Jace Howard said at Michigan Media Day. “He’s a great dude to be around. He fits our style of how we place, locks up runs on the floor super hard. Super quick off the bounce. His first step is really, really impressive. … You can tell he’s going to be special for sure.”

Despite having only been in Michigan for three months, Khayat is looking to make an immediate impact when play starts in November. And for that to happen, his unique transition will need to serve him well.