Ryan Turell turns heads and wows the fans in Israel debut as he looks to take the next step

Aug 15, 2023 | Holyland Hoops

While the University of Arizona came in as the clear favorites against the Israel Select Team, it was actually an American playing for the Sabra squad that led all scorers and received the largest ovation throughout the 40 minute contest that saw the Wildcats come out on top 124-77.

US born swingman Ryan Turell made his Holy Land hoops debut thanks to the non-profit organization Athletes for Israel and thrilled the partisan crowd of close to 1,000 fans primarily made up of ex-pats who have made their home in Israel.

Turell, who is currently playing for the NBA’s Detroit Pistons G-League franchise, the Motor City Cruise is attempting to become the first Orthodox Jew to play in the World’s Best League after having featured for Division III Yeshiva University in New York.

Ryan Turell and Keshad Johnson – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Standing at a slender 6”7, Turell was able to showcase his shooting abilities from long range and within the arc was cheered to the fans delight after each and every bucket whether it was a 3-pointer, deuce or even free throw. A number of local Israeli coaches from Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Tel Aviv, Hapoel Haifa as well as agents and scouts looked on intently as they all watched Turell, who could make Aliyah vie the Law of Return and become a naturalized Israeli, drop 30 points going 8/17 from the field including 4 triples while going 10/11 from the charity stripe.

“It’s truly a blessing as it’s always been a dream of mine to play in Israel and to come out here with Athletes for Israel is really special,” Turell told The Sports Rabbi following the game.

Other articles of interest:

Turell bright spot for Israel Select team in tough loss to Arizona
Arizona hoopsters wow local youth as Israel trip a hit in Jerusalem
Coach Lloyd looks to change the world as the Arizona Wildcats are on their way to Israel

Athletes for Israel is working to combat the dramatic rise in global antisemitism and promote a positive narrative about Israel by bringing professional and collegiate athletes to the Holy Land and are credited for bringing not only Turell but also Arizona, Kansas State and Auburn last year to the country.

Ryan Turell – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

The final score of the game was quite telling but not unexpected as Arizona is ranked 11th overall in the country in the most recent ESPN preseason poll along with the fact that the Israeli team were a collection of players from around the nation and are playing at varying levels.

“We got put together like a week ago so it was really tough but once we got going, we got going but it was tough to get that chemistry in one week. Overall I would have liked to put up a better game as a team. If we had more time together we could have played a better game. But we showed some good stretches and it was great to have all the fans come out and support us. Arizona is a powerhouse and are really well coached, talented team and I hope nothing for the best for them. I think they can win the national championship this year.”

There had been questions including from this author if Turell, who was recently featured in Amazon Prime’s ‘Destination NBA: A G League Odyssey’, could play in Israel’s top league and those seemed to have been answered with his performance as many finally were able to see the California born hoopster live and in person instead of YouTube and various streaming services on the web.

Arizona head coach Tommy Lloyd whose team is comprised of both international and American born players has seen quite a bit in his many years in the business, feels that Turell has some intangibles that will help him as he strives to reach his goal of playing in the NBA.

Tommy Lloyd and Ryan Turell – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

“He is a really good player and he’s making an adjustment having played DIII. He is very comfortable having a heavy workload and being a high volume guy which is a great skill to have and with that comes confidence.”

“What I noticed about him is that he is very opportunistic. He had a few really nice individual offensive plays but a lot of his game, he got a loose ball and put it in and things like that you have to have a knack for and it’s a skill. I’m excited as this is the first time I’ve seen him play and I’m glad he played well for us and I’m excited to see what he can do in the future.”

His shot is silky, his craftiness is unparalleled and his attitude is addictive. There are plenty of clubs in Israel including the national team that could use a naturalized Ryan Turell right now as the 2023/24 season is about to begin.

Of course, with that Turell also needs to put on some upper body muscle in order to be able to withstand the pressure and intensity of European basketball whether it’s the Euroleague, EuroCup or Champions League. Weighing in at only 190lbs can make him an easy target for the opposition on offense while having a difficult time on defense. However, there are a number of D3 players that have been able to make that jump both shorter and taller whether it has been Maccabi Tel Aviv captain John Dibartolomeo as well as Willy Workman.

Ryan Turell – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

“Regardless of what happens NBA wise,” Turell noted when asked about potentially playing in the Promised Land and perhaps even Maccabi Tel Aviv as he wore yellow-and-blue for the Select Team. “It’s always been a dream of mine to play in Israel and play for Israel. That’s definitely something down the line. As for Maccabi, possibly, ya. Any team out here, but they (Maccabi) are such a prestigious team and such a well cultured team it would be a blessing for sure.”

The Israeli league and G-League are very similar in style and in the pace of the game play itself and in that case Turell could fit in fairly easily in places like Kiryat Ata, Eilat, Beer Sheva and even Haifa, but for the top level teams, he’s still a work in process.

Can he make that jump to those teams or can he make the giant leap to the NBA? Certainly with more work, work and yet more hard work and that’s something the modest Turell seems to have plenty of ethic, drive and desire.

“That’s the goal to make the NBA, I have to put in the work and take it one day at a time. Anyone can look at a dream and look at a goal and say it’s too far or too hard. But if you take it one day at a time you can achieve that goal. Absolutely (I feel I can make it next year) but I am just going to keep working hard to try and get there.”

Ryan Turell – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

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