Ryan Turell has announced his plans to declare to the 2022 NBA Draft, and would be the first Orthodox Jew to play for the NBA. (Ryan Turell)
Ryan Turell has announced his plans to declare to the 2022 NBA Draft, and would be the first Orthodox Jew to play for the NBA.

Ryan Turell

Ryan Turell: Playing for a goal, and a faith

March 15, 2022

Yeshiva University, a small Jewish College located in Washington Heights, hosts the Maccabees, a Division III men’s basketball team that is ranked 6th in the country. The team is composed of 15 men, one of whom has recently announced his decision to partake in the 2022 NBA Draft. Ryan Turell, a 6’7” Guard, has been “averaging 28.1 points per game, the most by any player in all three divisions of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, male or female,” according to the New York Times. Despite being offered multiple Division 1 offers, Turell turned them all down, following his Jewish faith to Yeshiva University and playing under Coach Elliot Steinmetz, a former Yeshiva men’s basketball player.

Turell has done more than score points for his college. He has created an awareness for the Jewish community and Yeshiva University itself. In his highlight videos, we see Turell playing every game in a Yarmulke, a traditional Jewish skullcap worn by the men during prayer or everyday life. Wearing “Maccabees” across his chest, he and his teammates bring awareness to the Maccabees, a priestly family of Jews who rebelled against the Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV and reconsecrated the defiled Temple of Jerusalem.

Yeshiva University is a small Jewish college located in Washington Heights. (Wikimedia Commons)

His decision to pursue Yeshiva University over numerous Division 1 offers may appear shocking. For a young man who has worked hard to play in the NBA, why choose a small school that is not known for its athletics? Turell wanted to embrace his Jewish faith, especially growing up very religious, keeping kosher and attending only religious schools. He wanted to be a “Jewish Hero,” and by working hard, the school would not matter but the effort and results. Now, on March 15, 2022, Turell posted to his Instagram his statement of declaring for the 2022 NBA draft, asking for the support of a “yarmulke wearing Orthodox Jew” and thanking “God…family, friends, teammates, coaches, rabbi’s, professors, and especially…all of Macs Nation.”

With only 22 NBA players who are Jewish, according to the Jewish Virtual Library, Turell is the only Orthodox Jew, and only individual coming from Yeshiva University. As a Jewish female soccer player, I wish the best of luck to Turell. His desire to achieve in a field not typically dominated by Jewish individuals is admirable, and I hope that his goals are reached. Turell has proven to the world that athletes from all backgrounds can reach higher, as long as they work hard. Values vary from person to person, but sticking to them is a more impressive feat.

Ryan Turell stands at 6’7″ and boasts a yarmulke across his skull, playing both the game he loves while practicing the religion he loves. (@NBAProspect)

 

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Maya is a senior at Neuqua Valley High School and a second year member of the Echo. She is involved in soccer, Rho Kappa Executive Board, French Society...

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