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The Most Popular Jew in Toledo, Ohio

..would have to be Israeli basketballer Naama Shafir, by the looks of things.

After suffering a season-ending knee injury on Nov. 25, University of Toledo star point guard Naama Shafir privately decided not to return for a fifth season.

She figured she’d graduate in May, say good-bye to the United States, and return to her homeland Israel to compete professionally. Shafir reconsidered in the following weeks, much to the delight of Rocket fans, who have grown attached to her for her friendly personality, creative dribbling, and flashy passes.

Following UT’s 63-48 win over Ball State on Thursday, Shafir explained to a room full of reporters at Savage Arena her decision to come back for another year, stressing she wouldn’t be comfortable leaving the program knowing her final game ended with her lying on the court crippled in pain at Indiana.

“After a couple of weeks I started to think that’s not how I want to finish here,” Shafir said. “I still feel like I have a lot to give here. I’m excited to come back for another year with amazing fans, an amazing team and coaches.”

Shafir will be awarded a fifth year of eligibility, per NCAA rules, because she did not participate in 20 percent of her team’s games before suffering the injury.

Instead of graduating alongside Courtney Ingersoll and Haylie Linn, she’ll be part of next year’s senior class with Lecretia Smith, Riley McCormick, Kyle Baumgartner, and Yolanda Richardson.

“It’s a great feeling knowing we have another year to play together,” Richardson said. “I think it’s going to be really exciting for us next year.”

Of Shafir’s greatest moments at UT to date, none rank higher than the 40 points she dropped in last season’s WNIT championship win over Southern California. She averaged 9.3 points per game this season, which is skewed because she played only one minute against Indiana.

Shafir isn’t sure when she’ll be cleared to run, let alone play basketball, but coach Tricia Cullop said Shafir’s progressing well in recovering.

“She handled this all with great maturity,” Cullop said. “I’m glad she took some time so she made the right decision that she’s comfortable with instead of rushing into a decision and wavering.”

I’ve mentioned Naama on here before..for being an observant Jew who stayed true to her beliefs, and refuses to break the Jewish Sabbath for basketball. She has also insisted on dressing modestly.

As far as I’m concerned, Naama is a true “light unto the nations.”

And not just for her deadly jump shot.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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