Straight out of Monsey: Rockland’s next NBA prospect?
A sharp-shooting guard from Monsey made history and headlines as a rookie sensation with the Yeshiva University Maccabees men’s basketball team.
Zevi Samet, a 6-1 sophomore at the private college in Washington Heights, earned Rookie of the Year honors in the Division III Skyline Conference, leading the Maccabees to a 12-3 record in conference play, a 16-10 record overall, and a victory in the Skyline quarterfinals.
The team had 10 rookies on its 16-man roster, and had the unenviable task of following a championship-winning season led by Ryan Turrel, the Macs’ all-time leading scorer, and Gabriel Leifer, the school’s fifth-leading scorer.
The smooth-shooting Samet scored 558 points, the most in a single season by a first-year player in school history. The Monsey native made 3.96 three-point shots per game, tops in NCAA Division III men's basketball, and averaged a conference-best 21.5 points per game.
During the Macs’ Nov. 12 matchup with nationally ranked No. 21 Illinois Wesleyan University, Samet scored a game-high 38 points, while shooting 15-for-29 from the field and nailing eight 3-pointers. He mixed long-range shots from the corner, elbow and top of the key while also pulling down six rebounds, handing out three assists and grabbing a steal on his way to earning a spot on the Sikma Hall of Fame Invitational All-Tournament team.
Just days later, Samet tallied 40 points during Yeshiva's win over conference rival St. Joseph's University Brooklyn, going 11-for-16 from 3-point range.
Samet's play led to his selection as the D3hoops.com Region 3 Rookie of the Year and All-Region third team honoree. He has drawn comparisons with Ryan Turrel, who’s playing pro ball for Detroit’s Motor City Cruise in the NBA’s G League.
Samet, who wears No. 21 on his jersey and a black velvet yarmulke on the court, came to YU after starring for Torah Academy of Bergen County in Teaneck, N.J.
His uncle, a rosh yeshiva (head of school) at YU, Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky, attends some of his games.
“It’s fun, it’s good,” Samet said of having his uncle in the stands, during an interview with the podcast Ball Habatim. “I feel that he looks at it and says, you know what, if a guy can continue to learn and use this basketball as a healthy outlet, uses basketball as something to make kiddush Hashem [sanctifying the name of God] and enhance my own yiddishkeit [Jewishness], he came and supported it.”
Here's Samet talking about his 40-point performance:
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