Tom Maayan to return to Israel to join the Israeli Defense Forces

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Tom Maayan’s career at Seton Hall is over.

The Pirate’s sophomore point guard played his final collegiate game on Tuesday night, going scoreless in 13 minutes in a win over NJIT. Maayan will be returning to his native Israel to fulfill his commitment to the Israeli Defense Forces.

Maayan spent three months this summer training with the IDF, an obligation that must be fulfilled by every young Israeli. Men are required to spend three years in the military and women are required to devote two years. He initially received an exemption that allowed him to return to school, but that exemption was only for 120 days. Seton Hall and Maayan’s family hoped that another exemption would be granted, but that hope ran out.

“It was definitely a shock,” Seton Hall teammate Sterling Gibbs told Brendan Prunty of the Newark Star-Ledger. “A little bit into the season, we kind of figured — but we weren’t sure — that this may be his last year. But we weren’t sure. I’m happy for him because he’s going back to his country, he’s going to see his family and he’s going to live his normal life now.”

Maayan didn’t speak to the media after the game, but he did send out this tweet:

Report: Tom Maayan to leave Seton Hall to rejoin to Israeli military

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Tom Maayan was told on Monday, following Seton Hall’s 82-66 win over Monmouth, that his sophomore season with the Pirates may have ended.

According to a report from Zach Schonbrun of the New York Times, Maayan may have to leave the basketball program and return to Israel by Jan. 2 to fulfill his military obligation. Maayan’s uncle David Fuchs flew to the United States to inform his nephew of the news he had received. For Maayan, this isn’t the first time he was torn between his country and schools.

Maayan left in March, following the end of Seton Hall’s season in the Big East tournament. In mid-August, Maayan had returned to Seton Hall, after the Israeli Defense Forces granted him a 90-day furlough. Fuchs and former Seton Hall director of basketball operations Stephen Sauers had attempted to get Maayan an exemption from his three-year military commitment.

Maayan was selected to play for Israel’s under-20 national team competing in the European championships in Estonia in July. He earned notice from Arik Shivek, the coach of the Israeli national basketball team, while averaging 10.1 points and 5.6 assists for Israel, which finished 15th.

The performance also seemingly helped Maayan earn an elite athlete exemption by the army, in conjunction with the Ministry of Culture and Sport, which grants only 12 athletes (in any sport) across three age groups a temporary stay of service. According to Maayan and Fuchs, they received assurances from officials in the Sports Administration that Maayan could return to Seton Hall and finish the year.

“I wouldn’t have come back if I didn’t have the permission,” Maayan said.

The NYT reported that Fuch’s believes this is the result of a misunderstanding. This latest struggle between Maayan and the Israel Defense Forces could put an end to his collegiate career.

The 6-foot-2 point guard was averaging 1.0 points, 2.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game in more than 17 minutes of action a night.

Assigned Reading: Seton Hall’s Tom Maayan went from athlete to soldier and back

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There may not have been a player in the country that had a more difficult offseason than Tom Maayan of Seton Hall.

He nearly went to war. Literally.

You see, Maayan is an Israeli national, which means that he is subject to the mandatory three-year term of service in the Israeli Defense Force. Just days after Seton Hall’s season ended, Maayan was forced to return home to go to basic training.

Instead of learning new reads in pick-and-roll actions or working on his quickness, Mayaan was learning how to fire an M16.

It gives a whole new meaning to ‘he spent the offseason becoming a better shooter’, doesn’t it?

Anyway, Maayan’s story isn’t exactly a new one. It’s not a secret that he went back to Israel to train for five months before getting an exemption that would allow him to return to Seton Hall this fall. But it’s worth it to read through Brendan Prunty’s story on the process, which includes a great anecdote about Kevin Willard refusing to fill Maayan’s scholarship on the off-chance that he would return to school.