Hawaii loses a freshman to the Israeli military

Jeff Eisenberg

Of the five Hawaii basketball players who have left the program this year with eligibility remaining, Orel Lev definitely has the most unusual reason for departing.

The redshirt freshman guard will not return to Hawaii next fall after being called to serve the next three years in the military in his native Israel. Lev had hoped to be able to delay his military obligation, but his attempt to petition for that was denied.

"The army is very strict and I'm not allowed to leave the country for the next three years," Lev said in a statement released by the school. "I had a great time in Hawai'i and I wish I could come back to play for a great coach and great teammates. Thank you for the wonderful experience and mahalo to everyone."

There is a chance Lev will still one day play for Hawaii should he choose to return once his military service is done in 2015. He will be an open recruit by that time, however, and may also have opportunities to play professionally in Europe.

[Related: Michigan State to play Connecticut on U.S. Air Base in Germany]

The loss of Lev is a damaging blow in the short term to a Hawaii program that has already dealt with its share of attrition this offseason. Hawaii coach Gib Arnold previously called Lev one of the most athletic players on his team and expected him to provide depth at the wing positions while honing his skills until they caught up with his natural ability.

"While we are disappointed that Orel won't be able suit up for us the next three years, we completely respect the military commitment he must fulfill," Arnold said in the statement. "There is no greater sacrifice than serving your country."

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