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October 2, 2012
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RELATED: Singing the Right Tune: Singer Commits
RELATED: Beyond the Commitment VIDEO: Scouting Singer
During his recruitment, three-star California point guard commit Sam Singer was being pulled in plenty of different directions.
The 6-foot-4, 185-pound prospect was the proud owner of 24 Division I scholarship offers, and was being recruited by such hoops stalwarts as Stanford, North Carolina State, Kansas State, Davidson, Boston College, Oklahoma State and Richmond.
"The hardest part is saying 'no' to all the other schools recruiting you, especially the ones in your final six that I had," Singer said after he pledged his services to Mike Montgomery and the Bears. "You build a lot of great relationships, and I had a lot of great options at every school -- all six schools -- and the hardest part was saying 'no.'"
One of the schools in his final six - Harvard - sent assistant Yanni Hufnagel to try and pry Singer out of south Florida. After pursuing Singer for so long, seeing hours of tape and watching him live, Hufnagel -- though unsuccessful in drawing Singer to Cambridge, Mass. -- was able to recruit Singer to a different type of team.
"I'm going to be trying out to play in the Maccabiah Games next year in Israel," says Singer, who is of the Jewish faith. "I'm going to be on the Maccabiah team."
The Maccabiah Games is an international Jewish athletic event, held in Israel every four years. The Games are open to Jewish athletes, as well as Israeli athletes regardless of religion. Separated into three divisions - Open, Juniors and Masters - the Games have drawn such notables as Mark Spitz, Lenny Krayzelburg, Jason Lezak, Kerri Strug, Danny Schayes and Larry Brown in the past. Hufnagel will be helming the U.S. junior division basketball team in July.
Though Singer missed the try-out two weeks ago in Philadelphia, he is one of the best young point guards in the nation -- regardless of faith -- and will be almost assured a spot on the roster.
"I don't know where I'm going to play yet," Singer says. "There's an 18-and-under team coached by the coach at Harvard and an open team that's coached by Seth Greenberg that I might play for.
"They contacted me separately (from the Crimson). The coach at Harvard was recruiting me separately, but then he wanted me to play for them, so he was talking to me about that. He said, 'You missed the try-out, but we know you're good enough,' so they can put me on the team. I think the roster's coming out in a few weeks."
Singer has never been to Israel before, but luckily, he's taking a Middle Eastern Studies course as one of his five classes as a senior -- classes which include Differential Calculus, Advanced Placement Comparative Government, Honors Biology and an English elective -- so he'll be prepared.
"I just wanted to learn more about the Middle East and everything that was going on there, and it also fit well into my senior schedule. I felt it'd be a nice course, as a senior, to take," he says.
The home team -- Israel -- should be the odds-on favorite, as the sport exploded in popularity in the state of eight million almost as soon as it was introduced, shortly after the founding of the state in 1948.
"Israel's pretty good," says Singer. "They're going to be the main competition."
Cal fans will recall that last month, two former baseball Bears -- Josh Satin and Charlie Cutler -- played for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic Qualifying Tournament just down the road from Singer in Jupiter, Fla., though they fell short of qualifying for the full tournament in March, losing in the winner-take-all title game against Spain.
Stay tuned for more from Cal's latest basketball commitment.
MORE HOOPS RECRUITING:
Singer Recaps In-Home
Singer's Interest Increases
Singer Talks Bay Area Swing
Beyond the Commitment: Scouting Singer
Singer Commits: Bears Clicking on All Cylinders
Gorcey's Strong Suit: Bears Set Up For Historic Class
Beyond the Commitment: Jordan Mathews
Mathews Commits to Cal
Jones Has Cal Among Leaders