Orthodox basketball star Ryan Turell signed to top Israeli league

The 25-year-old former Yeshiva University forward will play for Ironi Ness Ziona in the 2024/25 season


2MGT6D3 Yeshiva University Maccabees huddle around guard Ryan Turell (11) before a game against the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA), in New York, Feb. 25, 2020. The Maccabees won the Skyline Conference quarterfinal 75-57. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

American Orthodox Jewish basketball player Ryan Turell has signed with Israeli basketball team Ironi Ness Ziona in the country’s top tier, the Basketball Premier League.

Turell made history as the first Orthodox Jew to play in the NBA’s minor G League in 2022 and led his college team at Yeshiva University in New York to a record-breaking 50 consecutive victories, all the while wearing a yarmulke atop a head of blonde curls.

Now the 6ft 7in forward, who was the top scorer in his college basketball division during his final year at Yeshiva University, is making his professional debut in Israel.

Ironi Ness Ziona, a team located in central Israel south of Tel Aviv, announced on Tuesday that Turell, 25, has been signed for the 2024/25 season. In a press release from the team, Ness Ziona coach Amit Sherf said: “I am very happy with Ryan signing with our team. I am confident that his basketball intelligence will help him quickly adapt to the European game. He will provide us with shooting and athleticism at the guard/forward positions, and he will be a key part of our strong and diverse Israeli core this season.”

During his four seasons at Yeshiva, Turell averaged 24.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game, with a three-point shooting percentage of 44.9.

Turell averaged 27.1 points per game in his final season and was named the D3 National Player of the Year.

Following his successes at Yeshiva, Turell played two seasons for the Motor City Cruise, a team affiliated with the Detroit Pistons, and averaged 4.4 points per game overall and a strong three-point shooting percentage of .355. Turell played his best and last game for the Cruise on 23 March, scoring 34 points and six rebounds.

While he hasn’t given up on his goal of becoming the first Orthodox Jew to play for the NBA, Turell will be fulfilling another dream by playing basketball in Israel.

“I’m very excited and honoured to be a part of Ironi Ness Ziona, and can’t wait to start playing,” he said in the team’s press release.

Ness Ziona finished the 2023-2024 regular season with a losing record but advanced to the playoffs, where the team made it to the quarterfinals. The 2024-2025 season begins in October.

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