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Playoff MVP Ravenel to join Israel’s Maccabi Haifa

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

After being named playoff MVP in May and helping the Ryukyu Golden Kings secure their fourth championship in the bj-league’s 11th and final season, Evan Ravenel is taking his hoop talents to Israel.

Instead of remaining with Ryukyu during the inaugural B. League campaign, the 26-year-old post player will ply his craft for Maccabi Haifa in the Israeli League after recently finalizing a two-year deal with the team.

Ravenel joins a team that captured its first league title in the 2012-13 campaign and earned a runner-up finish in the finals the next season.

“We have been following Evan for the last two seasons, and we believe he has the right skill set to perform well in the Israeli League,” Maccabi Haifa head coach Offer Rahimi said in a statement posted on the team website on Aug. 4. (In July, Rahimi was promoted to head coach after six seasons as an assistant.)

Team owner Jeff Rosen said, “Evan is a versatile player who brings toughness to our team, and the ability to do everything well on the court.”

An imposing presence in the paint, the 203-cm Ravenel averaged 17.3 points and 10.0 rebounds a game for the Golden Kings during the regular season. He had 22 points on 10-for-14 shooting and 12 rebounds against the Toyama Grouses in the championship game at Ariake Colosseum.

Ravenel helped the Ohio State Buckeyes advance to the NCAA Final Four as a college junior. He began his collegiate career at Boston College before transferring to OSU.

As a first-year pro, he contributed 18.5 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.0 steals a game for Polpharma Starogard Gdanski of the Polish League in 2013-14. The next season, playing for Riski Sportist Samokov of the Bulgarian League, Ravenel averaged 13.3 points, 7.0 boards and 1.7 assists.

Looking back on his season with the Golden Kings, Ravenel admitted he faces a less physical brand of ball than he had experienced in other overseas leagues in previous years.

“I was a guy in Japan who played different,” Ravenel told The Columbus Dispatch, an Ohio newspaper. “Most of the centers play back to the basket and my game was a little bit different. I step out, I can shoot the ball, I run the floor and things like that. It was tough for guys to adjust to me, and I could adjust easier than a typical big can.”

In the spotlight this season in Israel, Ravenel will compete against new Hapoel Jerusalem acquisition Amare Stoudemire, a six-time NBA All-Star. Stoudemire retired from the NBA this offseason after 14 seasons in the league. When he played for the Phoenix Suns, he earned the 2002-03 Rookie of the Year award.