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Penn star Zack Rosen takes his talents to Israel

Zack Rosen, Shaam Polen

Pennsylvania’s Zack Rosen (1) is consoled by best friend Shaam Polen of Colonia, N.J. while they walk off the court after losing to Princeton 62-52 in an NCAA college basketball game in Princeton, N.J. on Tuesday, March 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Tim Larsen)


Zack Rosen is one of those players who make college basketball a joy to watch. In his four-year career at Penn, he was the head, heart and guts of the Quaker program, playing at an incredibly high level every time he stepped on the floor. He averaged 18.2 points, 5.2 assists and 1.4 steals per game as a senior, and was named the Ivy League’s player of the year for his efforts. His final Penn team won 20 games, the first red-and-blue squad to hit that mark since 2007.

Unfortunately, that ’07 team was also the last one to play in an NCAA tournament. Rosen never got his shot, and his somewhat earth-bound talents weren’t enough to tempt an NBA team to take a flyer on him, Linsanity be damned.

Don’t weep for Zack Rosen, however. He recently signed a one-year pro contract with Hapoel Holon of the Israeli league. According to the Daily Pennsylvanian, Rosen isn’t taking his one-year commitment, or his faith, lightly.

When Rosen arrives in Israel — Holon is a suburb of Tel Aviv — he will begin training camp for a month and a half. He will also begin making Aliyah, a process which grants citizenship to Jews and will allow his team to sign another American player. But making Aliyah is also a religious and spiritual commitment. Rosen said he won’t make Aliyah for just basketball reasons: “It’s a good thing and something I’ve wanted,” he said.

Rosen may be making the best possible decision here. He’ll get a chance to play basketball at a fairly high level, gain a cultural experience that could change his life forever, and his overseas season will end in in May, allowing him to return to the U.S. to take a shot at catching on with an NBA team in need of point guard help.

He made that decision with his head, his heart and his guts. That’s so Rosen.