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YU News

Turell and Leifer Named Basketball Times Preseason All-Americans

By Anthony O’Hagan, Sports Information Director
YU Athletics Department

The Yeshiva University men’s basketball team garnered high praise from both the Basketball Times and the College Athletic Advisor. In the Basketball Times Top 20 Preseason Rankings, for NCAA Division III, the Maccabees earned the No. 4 spot. The magazine also selected senior forward Gabriel Leifer and junior guard Ryan Turell as its Preseason All-Americans.

Ryan Turell (left); Gabriel Leifer

The Maccabees were also bestowed a ranking on the College Athletic Advisor’s “College Men's Basketball Programs That Inspire” List, earning the 20th spot out of over 1,300 schools that fit the criteria.

“This program certainly inspires me,” Yeshiva University Director of Athletics, Joe Bednarsh, said. “I am always in awe of our incredible student-athletes and they inspire me each day with their dedication to their sport, their academics, and their observance. It’s indisputable that the men’s basketball program inspired the entire Jewish community last year and the players and coaches truly earned this recognition.”

The 2019-20 season was a historic one for the YU men’s basketball team. The Macs earned their first two NCAA Tournament victories in program history, on their way to the Sweet 16 before the remainder of the tournament was canceled. YU owned the best record in NCAA Division III at 29-1, including 29 consecutive victories since the opening contest. The Maccabees finished the 2019-20 season ranked No. 8 in the country, according to the Men’s Top 25 National Poll. The Blue and White won its second Skyline Championship in the past three years, going 16-0 in league play and 3-0 in the conference tournament.

Turell earned a spot on the All-America first team. The 2019-20 National Association of Basketball Coaches All-American was also selected as the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association (MBWA) Division III Men's College Player of the Year, the Skyline Conference Player of the Year, and earned a spot on the All-Skyline first team.

The Los Angeles native averaged a team-best 23.9 points per game last year, shooting an outstanding 63.6% from the floor and converting 46.2% of his shots from beyond the arc. He scored 646 points, in 2019-20, which puts him in first place on YU’s All-Time Single-Season Scoring List. The former Skyline Rookie of the Year became the first sophomore in school history to eclipse the 1,000-career point mark and was the fastest player all-time at YU to do so, in just 47 games played. Turell netted a collegiate career-best 41 points, while shooting 13-for-16 from the field and 7-for-9 from 3-point range, in Yeshiva’s NCAA Tournament opening-round victory over Worcester Polytechnic Institute, back on March 6. He is ranked No. 20 on Yeshiva’s All-Time Scoring List with 1,190 career points.

Leifer averaged a double-double (16.0 points and 13.7 rebounds) per game last season and dished out 6.6 assists per contest, on his way to being named a All-American. The one-time U.S. Basketball Writers Association Division III National Player of the Week generated four triple-doubles last year, the most in all of NCAA Division III, including totals of 10 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists in Yeshiva’s NCAA Tournament second-round victory over Penn State Harrisburg, back on March 7. He also produced 16 points, 24 rebounds and 12 assists in YU’s Skyline Conference Championship victory over Purchase College, on March 1, on his way to being named the Most Outstanding Player of the conference's postseason.

The Lawrence native finished the 2019-20 season as the leader in the country with 11.8 defensive rebounds per game and produced the second most double-doubles in the nation, with 23. Thanks to his strong year, Leifer was selected to both the Academic All-America second team of the College Sports Information Directors of America and the All-Skyline first team. He earned a spot on the All-MBWA first team for the second season in a row. He is now ranked No. 16 on YU’s All-Time Scoring List with 1,230 career points.

The Maccabees closed out the year first in the nation with a 53.1 field-goal percentage. Yeshiva averaged 20.2 assists per game, good for No. 2 in the country, while also having the second-highest 3-point field-goal percentage in all of Division III (40.6).

Thanks to YU’s strong season, Yeshiva University Head Coach Elliot Steinmetz was selected as the Coach of the Year, the MBWA Coach of the Year, and earned the Glenn Robinson National Coach of the Year Award.

The full release from the Basketball Times can be seen here.

The full Men’s Basketball Programs That Inspire list can be viewed at this link.