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Seton Hall guard leaves for Israeli army

12/11/2013

This summer, Georgia made one of the stranger and more random offseason personnel announcements in recent college hoops memory. In late July, incoming freshman and Switzerland native Dusan Langura, was injured in an explosion during a military training exercise. Since World War II, Wikipedia soon clarified, all Swiss males between 18 and 50 have been required to enlist in the nation's army and maintain their uniform, weapon, and ammunition in their homes. You know, just in case.

Langura eventually made it to Georgia, but his story was a reminder of a few things. American college basketball is a thoroughly international game, and there are still plenty of places in the world -- even banking powers in the developed world that haven't engaged in armed conflict since 1815 -- where the idea of being a member of the armed services is a mere fact of life.

Israel is one such place, and far more famous for it than the Swiss. At the age of 18, Israeli citizens are required to report for Israeli Defense Forces enlistment and training. Males are required to serve for three years; females for two. As the Star-Ledger's Brendan Prunty reports, one of those males is Seton Hall guard Tom Maayan, whose redeployment to the IDF cut short his basketball career in rather sudden and emotional fashion Tuesday night.

Why so sudden? Maayan was originally ordered into basic training this summer. But through "lobbying and politicking with the Israeli government," Prunty writes, SHU and Maayan's guardian were able to get an exemption to play for the Pirates this season. In November, that exemption was shortened to 120 days. Seton Hall kept up its push, but the reprieve officially ended Tuesday night after the Pirates' win over NJIT. Coach Kevin Willard made the news public after informing an "emotional" locker room.

"I think the yo-yoing was tough for everybody," Willard said after in the hallway of the Prudential Center. "It was tough for him -- those are his teammates, his family. His extended family. Leaving them wasn't easy. It wasn't easy last time and it wasn't easy this time, either. But it is what it is."

"We knew about it, but it was definitely tough," [teammate Sterling] Gibbs said. "Tommy's like a brother to us. It's like losing one of your brothers."

Unlike last time, the departure will end Maayan's career. Maayan didn't speak with the media, but he seemed to take a positive tone on Twitter.

Good luck, Tom.