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WVU freshman Ofri Naveh made a great first impression in charity exhibition

MORGANTOWN — It’s all the time eye-opening in sports activities when a rookie comes out of the gate with the surprising.

There may be immediately a sense of witnessing historical past from the bottom ground, a notion of with the ability to say, “I used to be there to see the start of greatness.”

There are two sides to that story. There may be Tom Brady after which there may be Tuffy Rhodes.

Brady wants no clarification, whereas Rhodes was the previous Chicago Cubs rookie, who in 1994 hit three dwelling runs towards the New York Mets on opening day solely to wrestle the remainder of the best way and by no means stay as much as these early expectations.

Which brings us to WVU freshman Ofri Naveh, a younger 6-foot-6 ahead from Israel, who made an explosive debut within the Mountaineers’ 85-78 exhibition victory on Friday towards George Mason.

In 27 minutes, Naveh shot 3 of 6 from the ground, scored 9 factors and grabbed 5 rebounds.

“You convey this child over who’s simply 17 or 18 years outdated to play at this excessive degree,” started WVU ahead Quinn Slazinski, who had 21 factors within the sport. “Because the first day of follow, we knew he was particular. That child involves follow to get higher each single day.

“I used to be speaking to him after the sport and I mentioned, ‘Pay attention, should you preserve persevering with to get higher and preserve enjoying arduous, your life goes to be very very enjoyable.’ ”

It’s clearly too early to inform if Naveh’s profession goes to resemble extra of Brady’s or Rhodes’ arc, however when the sport was on the road, the freshman carried out properly.

WVU trailed by as a lot as 10 factors late within the first half. When the Mountaineers started to make a run within the second half, it was Naveh who was on the ground scoring and rebounding.

“He’s a younger man, however he is aware of the sport,” WVU heart Jesse Edwards mentioned. “He is aware of how one can play. He’s bought the talents to be one of many higher freshmen on this nation.”

Naveh’s huge second got here halfway within the second half, when he took in a cross simply above the foul line, drove proper by means of the center of the lane and completed with a incredible dunk to tie the sport at 59.

Welcome to school basketball, Naveh.

“I’m not going to present him an excessive amount of credit score,” Slazinski joked. “I’ve by no means seen that earlier than. He pulled that out of nowhere.

“He’s 6-6, very cell, and clearly he could make strikes like that.”

There may be extra to Naveh’s story in that he’s in america for the primary time as a school freshman and there may be nonetheless a language barrier he’s overcoming.

“He’s a particular child and a particular basketball participant,” WVU head coach Josh Eilert mentioned. “He’s bought among the finest basketball IQs I’ve seen in a freshman.

“The questions he asks, generally I don’t perceive what he’s saying. As soon as I determine it out, they’re actually good questions. We’re working by means of that to get that language barrier damaged down.”

Naveh, a local of Neot Golan, close to the borders of each Syria and Jordan, is away from dwelling at a time when Israel is at warfare with Hamas within the Gaza Strip.

“I verify with him day-after-day to verify he’s in a great mental-head area,” Eilert mentioned. “It’s a lot for him. His household is secure. He’s bought an older sister who’s with the household. They’re in northern Israel, so it’s not fairly as intense, but it surely’s definitely difficult for him.”

The remaining is simply basketball. Naveh is one among 5 internationally-born gamers on the WVU roster, however the best way he moved and performed on Friday, it seems like he might match proper in with American basketball.

“He’s unorthodox,” Slazinski mentioned. “He’s arduous to protect. We stroll into follow day-after-day and Ofri is doing splits to heat up and we will’t even contact our toes. He works on stuff like that and it’s paying off for him.”