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Seton Hall's Tom Maayan leaving team to fight in Israeli army

By Matt Norlander | Staff Writer

In what is surely a first for college basketball, a player is being forced to leave his team due to overseas obligations to serve in his national armed forces.

This is what's happening to Seton Hall sophomore guard Tom Maayan, who played his final game on Tuesday night, a 71-55 Pirates win over NJIT. He came off the bench and contributed an assist and a rebound, going 0-2 from the field. After the game, Maayan was brief and thankful on Twitter.

Maayan will be flying home to Israel upon completing his schoolwork duties this week. National customs dictate he must continue to honor his obligation to his country and be enlisted in the Israeli Defense Forces. All citizens are required to go through the process after turning 18. Maayan trained overseas for three months before heading back to the United States for a semester's worth of class and basketball.

The Star-Ledger reports on Maayan's departure.

"He has an opportunity to get back home and further his career and take care of his obligations to the military," Willard told The Star-Ledger shortly after the news was made public.
The Pirates' head coach called the scene in the locker room postgame "emotional."
"It sucks," he said. "The locker room was upset when I told them."
... Through lobbying and politicking with the Israeli government, Maayan was able to earn a temporary exemption to play for the Pirates this season. That timeline was quickly altered, when last month, Maayan received word that the exemption was only for 120 days and that he was being ordered to report back to Israel by Jan. 2 in order to continue his training.

It's an unceremonious end for a player who was clearly beloved by teammates, and no doubt he'll be in their thoughts as they press on and head toward the second half of their season. The Pirates are 7-3 and play their first game without Maayan on Saturday when they play host to St. Peter's.

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