Former University of Pennsylvania star Zack Rosen has signed a contract with Israeli Super League squad Hapoel Holon.
He chose Holon because of the leadership of veteran coach Dan Shamir. “I wanted to come play in Israel and we felt that Holon, under the leadership of Coach Dan Shamir, was the best fit coming right out of college,” he told The Times of Israel.
The New-Jersey born 23-year-old, who announced the move via twitter, went to high school at basketball power house Saint Benedict Prep, where he played alongside some of the US’s top young talent, and was recruited to play college basketball for University of Pennsylvania Quakers.
In his first year at Penn, he became the starting point guard, averaging 8 points and 5 assists per game. The first three-time captain in school history, Rosen was honored as the 2012 Ivy Player of the Year and the 2012 Big 5 Player of the Year among the five prestigious Philadelphia universities: La Salle, Saint Joes, Penn, Villanova and Temple.
After graduating, Rosen participated in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, which showcases all the top seniors from the NCAA. He was invited to work out for several teams across the NBA, and once the NBA summer league started, he was invited to participate for the Philadelphia 76ers squad in the Orlando Summer League.
It had been no secret that if Rosen did not get an NBA contract he would start his professional career in Israel.
“I’m just really looking forward to the opportunity that Holon has given me to start my pro career,” he said. “Being Jewish is important to me, so exploring my faith and spirituality in the homeland will be special also.”
It has been a busy summer for Hapoel Holon, as guard Ron Lewis has left for Turkey and Israeli Moran Roth for powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv. Rosen will be joined next season by former Stanford standout Lawrence Hill. Hill spent last season with the Frisco Texas Legends. Despite losing some of its top talent from last year’s squad 14-11 squad, Holon expects to compete for the upper playoffs.
Asked how he expects his experience in Holon to improve his overall game, Rosen said, “The pro game obviously has some differences, both physically and technically, and there will be some kind of a learning curve. Having the belief of a coach is very important, and so I think I will continue to grow under his tutelage.”
Eurobasket’s Dubi Pick said, “Zack is a perfect fit in Dan Shamir’s coaching system. He’s a hard-nosed kid with an extremely impressive work ethic and I think the Holon fans will instantly fall-in-love with him, mostly because he resembles to Moran Roth’s style of play.
“Both are super fast playmakers, who prefer the extra pass over a bucket and strive off making their teammates better. The fact that Zack played (and played well) at the highest collegiate level and then in the Orlando Summer League helps me believe he can hold his own in the Israeli League.”