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Basketball Freshman Ofri Naveh Adapting to America, WVU



WVU Basketball Ofri Naveh
Kelsie LeRose / WVSN

WVU freshman Ofri Naveh has been in the United States for about three months now. Naveh came to West Virginia in mid-August as Josh Eilert’s staff added pieces late into the summer. Naveh, an 18-year-old from Israel, is adapting to West Virginia and the American lifestyle.

“It’s been really good. All of my teammates, my coaches, my family and even friends from back home, they’re all helping me to make new connections,” he said.

“I think the biggest adjustment is especially the English part for me to just learning in school than actually speaking it every day and not hearing Hebrew,” Naveh added. “But yeah, I get over it.”

Naveh was recruited by WVU’s staff after a connection with assistant Da’Sean Butler came about. Butler played for Naveh’s coach in Israel. When first arriving at West Virginia, Naveh wasn’t expected to receive much playing time as he would be a project player to develop over time. West Virginia had many moving pieces even heading into the season. By his third game ever at WVU, Eilert inserted the freshman into the starting lineup.

“Yeah, especially with Jose [Perez] leaving the team and RaeQuan [Battle] not getting his waiver. I’m just trying to keep getting better as a player as I can for my teammates. It’s not really about me,” Naveh said. “Just from thinking [about] coming here and playing five minutes to being a starter is a blessing. I think it’s all about the character of the people. You just get an opportunity you have to take it. I hope things will continue to go well.”

Things have gone well for Naveh. The 6-foot-6 guard/forward has been an early bright spot for this West Virginia team, who is short-handed. Naveh is averaging 4.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 26.5 minutes per game. Naveh capped off the Thanksgiving weekend with a career-high 10 points and six rebounds in a win against Bellarmine.

Naveh is a versatile player, which is crucial for WVU right now with just eight scholarship guys available. The game of basketball has evolved internationally throughout the years but Naveh doesn’t compare himself to any player because of his versatility.

“For me, it’s different because I don’t really have one spot. I can play the four, three, two [positions]. So I don’t try to focus myself on one player,” Naveh said.

West Virginia’s basketball program has dealt with a lot of adversity over the past six months. It all started with Bob Huggins’ radio comments and his DUI, which eventually led to his resignation. Then after many recruitments of the team throughout the summer, Eilert and the new staff still dealt with issues. The team parted ways with Jose Perez, RaeQuan Battle was not cleared to play by the NCAA, Akok Akok has been dealing with a health issue after collapsing on the floor and Kerr Kriisa is serving a nine-game suspension.

For Naveh, he’s dealing with much more serious circumstances as his homeland of Israel is dealing with war against Hamas. Basketball has been Naveh’s safe place as he continues to adapt to a new environment.

“The staff going on at home is crazy but I try to do what I can here to help my family, my friends and even people in Israel,” Naveh said. “But basketball for me it’s like giving me a break from that.”

Naveh and West Virginia will welcome their former Big East foe in St. John’s on Friday night as the Mountaineers look to get over. 500.

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