Drafted! Ryan Turell becomes the NBA’s first minor league Orthodox player

Ryan Turell #11 of Yeshiva pumps up his team prior to playing against WPI at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD on March 6, 2020. (Photo by Will Newton for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

“I decided to go to Yeshiva because I want to be a Jewish hero.”

Ryan Turell made headlines and turned heads while playing at Yeshiva University during their historic 50 game long winning streak– and now he’s set to become the NBA’s first Orthodox player.

Turell was drafted by the Detroit Piston’s minor league team, the Motor City Cruise, Saturday as the overall 27th pick.

NBA insider Marc Stein fist reported the news earlier in the week.

G League players do get called up and basketball insiders say the 6-foot-7 player has a shot making it to the big show due to the Pistons’ weak bench. In the 2017–18 season a total of 60 NBA call-ups occurred for a record 50 different G League players.

Turell declared for the NBA draft back in March but went unsigned, leading many to believe that his NBA dream was over.

“My full intention is to play professional basketball next year,” Turell said when he announced that he was forgoing his final year of eligibility at YU to enter into the draft.

“Being the first Orthodox Jew in the NBA would mean the world to me, and a dream come true, God willing. But, just as importantly, it would mean the world to others that never saw this as a possibility,” he told ESPN at the time.

After going undrafted and an injury setback over the summer, the 23-year-old mulled over moving to Israel to play in their league but decided to stay in the U.S. to gain more exposure.

“I want to get into as many NBA gyms as possible and show them what I can do. I’ve got to knock down shots and be a great defender and teammate,” he told ESPN.

A native of Los Angeles, Turell attended Valley Torah High School. The 6’7″ guard was his conference’s player of the year twice and also the NCAA Division III player of the year, shooting 59% overall and 47% from three-point range. Turell led the Maccabees to their second consecutive Skyline Conference Championship, earning them a No. 1 national Division III ranking.

Turell is also Yeshiva University’s top scorer in history, racking up more than 2,000 points during his time there despite two seasons being shortened due to COVID protocols.

Ryan Turell #11 of Yeshiva cheers with his team before playing against Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the first half during the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Championship – First Round at Goldfarb Gymnasium on at Johns Hopkins University on March 6, 2020 in Baltimore, Maryland. On Thursday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced that Maryland had confirmed three cases of residents with COVID-19, otherwise known as the Coronavirus, prompting Johns Hopkins officials to host the NCAA men’s basketball tournament without spectators. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

His performance on the hardwood turned a lot of heads while he was at YU and a ticket to watch him play became a hot commodity.

“I know NBA teams came to see me,” Turell told ESPN. “My coach would tell me after each game, especially toward the end of the season. Quite a few NBA teams came to watch.”

Turell says he plans to maintain his Orthodox beliefs while in the NBA, wearing a yarmulke during games and walking to games on Saturday.