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    Name: Ryan Turell 

    Hebrew Name: Ephraim 

    Age: 22 

    Height: 6’7” 

    Weight: 195lbs. 

    Position: Guard 

    Grew up in: California, The Valley 

    #11- Anything behind that number? It’s a family number; we love it. 

    Yeshivas Growing Up: Emek Hebrew Academy and Ohr Hachaim for Elementary School. For High School I went to Valley Torah. 

    Camps Growing Up: I never went to camp. I usually just played ball during the summers. 

    Major: Marketing 

    Favorite subject in school: Marketing 

    Career goal: To be a publicist 

    Notable awards: U.S. Basketball Writers Association Division III National Player of the Week twice (11/30 and 12/14), selected to the D3hoops.com Preseason All-America First Team (11/2),was selected to the D3hoops.com Team of the Week twice (11/16 and 11/30), was named the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association Divisions II-III Player of the Week three times (12/7, 12/14, and 12/21), was named the Skyline Conference Player of the Week four times (11/16, 11/29, 12/6, and 12/13), and earned a spot on the Skyline Conference Weekly Honor Roll (11/22)


    Meet Ryan Turell, the YU Maccabees all-star, who’s attempting to become the first Orthodox Jewish player in NBA history. Last Thursday night the Macs lost 73-59 against the Illinois Wesleyan Titans, ending the team’s 50-game win streak with its first loss since November 2019. Since the Macs’ first game of the season on Nov. 6, the team has been a spectacle of the Jewish world, receiving national media attention from ESPN and the NBA. The Macs entered the game ranked No. 1 in the NCAA DIII national ranking while the Titans ranked three spots lower at No. 4. Until this game, the Macs had not played against a top 25 team, making it one fans expected to be intense. While YU went on several short runs, Ryan Turell made some challenging shots and scored 22 points while the Titans kept on firing back with baskets of their own. In the last five minutes, YU cut the lead to 14, but it was too little too late, the game ended with a final score of 73-59 in favor of the Titans. At the end of the game, fans applauded the Macs despite the loss. Last Wednesday night, the day before the Yeshiva University Maccabeats basketball team lost, Ryan sat down with Ari Hirsch/Jewish Vues for a little Q&A.


    Mazel Tov on your team’s 50- game winning streak. How are you feeling these days? 

    I’m feeling great! We have a big game coming up and I’m excited for that. I think the team is really good and we have a good shot at winning the national championship. 

    How are you and your team feeling health wise? 

    Everyone seems to be overall healthy. 

    Do you feel that you have all of Klal Yisrael on your back? 

    There’s definitely a pride aspect every time you step onto the court with “Yeshiva” across your back and a yarmulke on your head. You feel like you’re not just representing the school, but the Jewish community as a whole. 

    What would you say is the secret to your team’s success? 

    Other than Hashem, the fact that everybody wants each other to succeed. If you watch the bench, all the guys that aren’t playing are clapping and cheering. When they go in, the starters are clapping and cheering for them. We all want each other to do well and succeed and I think that’s attributed to our success. 

    Do you confront a lot of antisemitism on or off the court? 

    I’ve experienced a few instances of antisemitism, especially when I was in High School, but I think the best way to combat it is to beat them on the court. 

    What were you feeling this week when the NBA & ESPN wished the Maccabeats congratulations on twitter for the 50 game winning streak? 

    That was pretty cool! At the end of the day, our goal is to win a national championship! 

    What does your coach, Coach Steinmetz, tell you before games? Especially the big ones? 

    If we play our game, no one can play with us! We just have to play our game. 

    What are your practices typically like? Do you feel a desire to constantly practice or do you guys slack off when it comes to practice at this point? 

    We love practice because it gives us a chance to compete against each other and get better every day. During practice we like to do a lot of competitive drills and I think that definitely gets us more game ready and ready to go. 

    At what point growing up did you realize that you were so much better than all the other kids in your yeshiva? 

    I don’t know if that’s a good question. I probably realized around 8th grade that I wanted to play professionally. I believe that half of success is showing up. The other half is working when no one is watching. I’ve been doing that since I was in 8th grade. 

    What are some challenges that you have faced along your journey so far? 

    Growing up, playing basketball with a yarmulke on, people assume that you can’t play. When I played in high school, there were times I took my yarmulke off when playing. I struggled with it. Later on I realized the importance of wearing it and beating them with my yarmulke on, and getting the respect we deserve. I realized how much it means to both myself and the Jewish community at large. We should be proud of who we are. We shouldn’t hide it. To be able to do that and showcase that you can wear a yarmulke and play on a high level is a dream come true. 

    What was the clincher to go to YU? I’m sure you were given scholarships to many different schools. What made you want to go to YU? 

    The fact that I can stay religious. I’m an Orthodox Jew; I keep kosher, I wrap tefillin, I keep Shabbos. If I went to another division, I don’t think I would have been able to have committed to both basketball and Judaism. I knew religion was way too important; it’s a part of who I am and I couldn’t give that up. I wanted to help create a pathway for all the Jewish kids who were in that kind of situation, kids who were getting recruited by higher divisions. They can come to Yeshiva and still succeed in ball and whatever they do after college. We want people to know that we are serious. Jews can play basketball. I made a decision to really be a part of something special, to be a Jewish hero who can take a dream and make it a reality. We can make a basketball culture for Jews and make this program, which had been seen as a joke, as a high-major one. Coach’s goal when he recruited me was to win a national title. 

    How do you manage your day? Between shiur, all your secular subjects, practice, games? It must be crazy! How many hours a day are you learning Torah? 

    We have practices at 6 a.m. every day, then we have the rest of the day to get everything else done. We daven after practice, and then I go to my Rebbie, Rabbi Aharon Ciment’s shiur, until 12:30. Then I typically have off for that first period until our secular classes start. So, I’ll go to the gym and work out and get stuff done then. Then I go to classes for the rest of the day. After that, I do homework and then I’m right back in the gym. 

    How often do you go back to California? 

    During the summers and winter break. 

    This is your senior year, what’s next? Is your goal to make it to the NBA? 

    That’s one of my goals. We’ll see what goes on next year. I still have an extra year of eligibility because of Covid, so we’ll see where we are next year. 

    Do you think you can make your schedule work between Shabbos & Yom Tov to actually play in the NBA? 

    Yes, absolutely. I am going to have to talk to rabbis and figure it out, but I think that could be a huge Kiddush Hashem! Playing in the NBA would definitely be a dream come true! 

    How does your team like playing under pressure? 

    We like pressure. Pressure is where we want to be. It means we are doing something right. All our guys have put in the work. We have a lot more to do. We can be better, but I like our chances. 

    What part of the game are you always trying to improve? 

    Footwork. I’m always trying to make sure my feet are 100%. My trainer in L.A. is a perfectionist. Even if I made a shot and my feet were wrong, he would make me do the play over again. So, definitely footwork. 

    In preparing for this interview, I spoke with your Rebbie at YU, Rabbi Aharon Ciment. He said that besides being a great ball player, you are a great person and have your priorities grounded. What’s your relationship like with your Rebbie? 

    Does he go to any of the games? He’s amazing! My connection with him is not like any connection I’ve ever had with a Rabbi. I really feel like I can ask him anything; he relates to what I’m saying and I can rely on him. He really brought me closer to Judaism. He goes to most of my games. 

    How are the crowds at the games these days? What type of crowd comes? 

    Everyone! Rabbis, alumni, kids, students; depends what day it is. Saturday nights are more family friendly because they have off for the weekend. But it’s really a very diverse crowd. You get people from all over. 

    How many games are left in the season? 

    I believe there are 9 left in the regular season, then 3 conference playoff games, and then the NCAA tournament. 

    Truth or myth: White Jewish Men can’t jump? 

    Yes, we can jump. I wouldn’t say we’re out of this world, but we have good athletes on this team. 

    Who helps you with your dunking? 

    I worked on my plyometrics going into my senior year. I did a lot of plyometric routines in the summer and it helped my hops get a lot higher. I was dunking before that, but I went from dunking to doing cool stuff in the air. 

    Do you think that you will get an invitation to the NCAA or NIT tournament? 

    No, technically you need to win your conference to be invited to the NCAA tournament. But there are also some “at large bids” so if we win tomorrow night, we’ll probably get our at large bid. 

    Thank you for taking the time to talk with me. On behalf of the Jewish Vues, I want to wish you Hatzlacha Raba. You and your teammates are making an unbelievable Kiddush Hashem; may Hashem continue to grant you and your team Hatzlacha and may you continue to play ball while making a Kiddush Hashem!