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.”
Photo credit: Hawai’i Athletics