Ryan Turell Aims to Be the First Orthodox Jew to Play in the NBA

A 6-foot-7 Yeshiva University senior, the team’s shooting guard and college basketball’s leading scorer across all NCAA divisions, is a Sabbath-observant Orthodox Jew. Ryan Turrel has decided to enter the NBA draft, forgoing his last year of college eligibility.

Ryan Turrel (YouTube)
Ryan Turrel (YouTube)

“Being the first Orthodox Jew in the NBA would mean the world to me, and a dream come true, God willing,” Turell told ESPN. “But, just as importantly, it would mean the world to others that never saw this as a possibility.”

Orthodox Jews do not work or travel on the Sabbath from Friday evening to Saturday evening. Turell informed ESPN he does plan to play on Saturday. After consulting with rabbis, he decided he will do so, but only when he can walk to the gym. He will not interrupt Shabbat by driving in a car or flying on an airplane.

Turell helped lead his team to 50 straight wins from 2019 to December 2021 and won the Skyline Conference championship. He wears a yarmulke on the court and plans to continue to do so.

CBS Sports reports he averages 27.1 points per game, shoots 47 percent from the 3-point line, and according to Synergy Sports Technology, he is the third most efficient shooter in all college basketball.

With the NBA only selecting 60 players in two rounds, ESPN does not expect him to be drafted. But that doesn’t deter Turell.

“My full intention is to play professional basketball next year,” he says. 


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