Arizona Wildcats commit and Class of 2016 five-star recruit T.J. Leaf will play for the Israeli National Team in the U18 Championship Games this month. Leaf’s father, Brad, gave this news to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.
A 6-foot-10 power forward, Leaf currently plays at Foothills Christian High School in El Cajon, California, near San Diego. His father played professionally in Israel for 17 years, and Leaf himself was born there. The elder Leaf explained his son’s decision to represent Israel to ESPN.
“He’ll get a chance to experience something completely different,” Brad Leaf told ESPN. “A different culture, and a different environment. I think it’s a tremendous opportunity for him.”
Leaf also received offers from Duke, Michigan, Florida and UCLA before committing to the Wildcats. Though his decision to play for Israel may be a bit unconventional, it will give him a taste of what kind of competition he can expect once he starts playing at Arizona, and perhaps on the professional level. Since he’s only 17, it may not be as overwhelming as, let’s say, playing for Israel in the Olympics.
All of the players will be 18 or under, so it should be an even playing field.
On top of that, and perhaps most important of all, the experience will be a chance for him to refine his game as he enters his last year of high school. This means that once he suits up at Arizona, he’ll be in a position to really make some noise for the team and help bring it a national championship.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to 247 Sports