Hawai’i redshirt freshman guard Orel Lev to fulfill military obligation

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Of all the roster moves in college basketball this off-season, the case of Hawai’i redshirt freshman Orel Lev is one unlike any other on the list.

Lev, a native of Israel, is leaving the program for three years of service in the Israeli army.

Israel requires all citizens to fulfill three years of duty, and with the army denying Lev’s application for an exemption he won’t be back in Honolulu this fall.

“I’m sorry that I can’t come back to Hawai’i,” Lev said in a school statement. “The army did not release me even though we tried to get an exemption. The army is very strict and I’m not allowed to leave the country for the next three years.

“I had a great time in Hawai’i and I wish I could come back to play for a great coach and great teammates. Thank you for the wonderful experience and mahalo to everyone.”

Lev will complete his tour in 2015, and while the door would remain open to play college basketball (either at Hawai’i or another school) there would also be the opportunity to play professionally in Europe.

With four other players leaving Gib Arnold’s program this is a tough blow for the Hawaii program as they move back to the Big West (they were a member of the league from 1984-96).

“While we are disappointed that Orel won’t be able suit up for us the next three years, we completely respect the military commitment he must fulfill,” Arnold said. “There is no greater sacrifice than serving your country.”

h/t Jeff Eisenberg, The Dagger

Photo credit: Hawai’i Athletics

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.