USF and walk-on guard Raphael Toren have waited two months to find out if the freshman is eligible to play collegiate basketball. They were supposed to receive final word Tuesday from the NCAA.
The two parties will have to wait one more week to hear if the 6-foot-6 guard can play for the men’s basketball team, after a conference call appeal with the NCAA was postponed until March 4.
“I’m tired of all these things,” Toren said. “I just want to play basketball. It’s killing me.”
Toren came to USF in December after playing basketball for a club team in Israel while serving in the military.
By NCAA rules, he is supposed to sit out a maximum eight games. Toren missed 12 before being declared ineligible.
Since mid-January, USF had been preparing an appeal while Toren was practicing with the team.
“The truth is the kid is not a professional, and he didn’t have any intent to professionalize,” USF coach Seth
Greenberg said. “If they can tell the kid what he is thinking, then they are Kreskin or Karnak (1970s psychics). It’s almost insulting that they are going to try and tell the kid what his intent was.”
USF has provided the NCAA with several documents and affidavits from his club in Israel, the Israeli military and his parents.
“They don’t understand the culture. They don’t understand the way they do things in Israel,” Greenberg said. “We have everything documented …from experts. If they don’t believe these things, they are obviously saying these people are liars and they are also saying they know what the kid’s intent was. And they never met the young man.
“They never met his family. They don’t know that his family basically salvaged everything that they own to give him a chance to get an American education. It’s sad.”
Toren’s family’s sacrifices, weren’t the only way he changed his life to go to school and play basketball in America.
In order to play basketball on the Israeli national team, athletes have to play on a club team.
“The biggest situation here is real simple,” Greenberg said. “The NCAA doesn’t understand what it is like to be a soldier-athlete in Israel.
“It s plain and simple. That kid made sure he was a soldier-athlete. He was assigned the most dangerous boot camp in all of Israel. He was right on the front line.”
Greenberg is questioning not only why Toren has been ruled ineligible but also how the rules are different for international players and American players.
“It doesn’t seem like the NCAA wants European and international players,” Greenberg said. “Our guys can play in pro-ams all summer. Our kids travel all over America in the summer playing on AAU teams, where they don’t pay a dime. They fly to camps and get paid for it. They get spoiled and given sneakers and gear and coaching and teaching. There are kids that fly to Michael Jordan’s camp to participate in Michael Jordan’s camp to play against Michael Jordan, but that’s all right.”
No matter what the NCAA finally decides Tuesday, Toren is a 19-year-old who has been dragged along for two months.
“I feel for the kid,” Greenberg said. “He came to this country not knowing a person, a single soul, not knowing if he is going to leave tomorrow. (His family) can’t afford to pay for his school.”
Assistant Sports Editor Bryan Fazio covers men’s basketball and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org