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Men's Basketball: 2019-20 Roster Preview

Updated: Nov 4, 2019

The 2019-20 season starts this week! Here is a look at all 17 members of the Macs' roster this year.

Simcha Halpert- Simcha Halpert has been a constant presence on the Macs for the past three years, as the Los Angeles native currently has the eighth-most points in YU history, and the best scoring season in school history in 2017-18, with 599 points. As the Skyline Conference’s second-best three-point shooter last season, Simcha is a deadly sniper whose release is as beautiful as the sound his shots make when they swish through the hoop. Sim will soak up a lot of minutes at the 2, and will provide an abundance of shooting to this dangerous Macs team as he looks to lock up his third-straight Skyline First Team All-Conference award.

Ryan Turell- This past season’s Skyline Conference Rookie of the Year and a member of the Skyline First Team All-Conference, Ryan Turell is due for another great season. The super sophomore led the Skyline Conference in points per game with 20.1 on 53.9/42.1/80.6 shooting splits right out of high school. Ryan contributed to other aspects of the game as well, pulling down an average of 5 rebounds and dishing out 3.5 assists per game. As a more experienced player, expect Ryan to be just as dominant on offense, while becoming a bigger presence on the less glamorous side of the ball.

Gabriel Leifer- The reigning Skyline Conference MVP, Gabe Leifer is as dangerous as they come. On offense, he can score in the post against the strongest defenders and step out and hit a three with ease. However, don’t double Gabe, as he led the Skyline Conference in assists last year with 5.4 a game. On defense, his shot-blocking ability is undeniable, as the former Jewish Hoops America Player of the Year led the conference in 2018-19 with 2.4 blocks per game. His athleticism and strength helped him also pace all Skyline players in rebounds per game this past season, with 12 a game. Bet on another MVP-type season from the superstar big man.

Dani Katz- Dani Katz is entering his fourth year as a member of the Macs, a team which he has helped bring from solid, if unspectacular, to a conference dominating squad. The senior forward will be starting for a team that greatly benefits from his passing and floor spacing skills, even if coughs up the ball sometimes. While sometimes beaten by faster guards on the perimeter, Dani makes up for his lack of quickness with his intangibles, such as boxing out and an innate ability to draw charges. I envision Dani doing more of the same this year, being the underrated jack-of-all-trades big man.

Eitan Halpert- Halpert, in his second year, will probably start at the point guard position for the Macs. Eitan, the younger brother of sharpshooter Simcha Halpert, has been working on his shooting since last season, and will use that weapon to help create space for bigs down low. The former Jewish Hoops America first-team honoree is deadly in transition, with the skills to finish craftily around the rim, and the court vision to find cutting teammates or spot-up shooters. If he is able to keep his turnovers down, count of Eitan taking the leap this year to becoming an eight points and three assists per game type of player for the Macs.

Ofek Reef- A two-time First Team All-Jewish Hoops America honoree, Ofek Reef is as athletic as anyone on the Macs. Standing at 6’1”, the freshman recruit is able to dunk with ease and snag boards over big men. The Texas native has also shown a willingness to sacrifice his body for the team, drawing two charges in a scrimmage against CCNY. Ofek is a fantastic player, and will be given significant playing time to showcase his all-around talent.

Caleb Milobsky- As the team’s primary backup big, Caleb Milobsky has a lot of pressure on his plate. In his role, he needs to have the abilities to both space the floor on offense and have the size to cover the interior. Thankfully, Caleb is talented enough to do this. While he might take non-ideal shots sometimes, and can occasionally get lost on defense during switches, Caleb has the skills to be a catch-and-shoot specialist and the stature to be able to contest slashers on the weak side. Due to his work ethic, I believe that Caleb will step up this year, and with his energy and talent, more than fill the shoes of Michael Hayon, who graduated.

Jeffrey Owen- Jeff Owen is an absolute dog on defense, contesting every shot within his reach and athletically grabbing rebounds over bigger men. Offensively, Jeff only took two and a half shots a game last year, though he hit 53% of those, and went 86% from the charity stripe on limited attempts. In addition, he only took 10 three-pointers throughout the season. As good as the Seattle-bred player is on the defensive side, Jeff will get more minutes this year if he is able to take the next step in his development on offense.

Kevin Bokor- Another player in his fourth season with the Macs, Kevin Bokor is a team-first player who fans love. He will guard anyone to the best of his abilities, utilizing his body to force bad shots; he gave Farmingdale State’s 6’9” George Riefenstahl some trouble last year. While not much of a scorer, Kevin has shot 65% from the field on 1.3 shots per game in his YU career. Even though there are more skilled big men on the team, expect Kevin to play several minutes each game as an energy booster off the bench.

Max Leibowitz- The former high school teammate of Ryan Turell at Valley Torah, Max Leibowitz is a solid player off the bench for the Macs. He is a knockdown shooter who is especially deadly in transition. His development this year will be interesting to watch; he has the potential to be one of the primary backups in future years. While Max is aggressive on defense and an amazing shooter on offense, there are too many players ahead of him on the depth chart for him to get a lot of meaningful minutes.

Tyler Hod- The youngest of the three Hod brothers, and the son and nephew of former YU all-time scoring leaders, Tyler Hod has basketball in his blood. The fan-favorite is a hard-nosed defender who always gives 110% while he is on the floor, on both defense and offense. He is a solid shooter who has hit 38% of threes over the past two seasons. On the other hand, as one of the smaller players on the Macs, Tyler can get in trouble on defense and on switches against bigger teams. While Tyler is beloved by all fans, there are other guards ahead of him in the rotation, which will limit his playing time throughout his fourth season as a member of the team.

Ryan Bokor- Ryan Bokor is the younger (but larger) brother of fan-favorite Kevin Bokor. Ryan isn’t afraid to shoot, and is a good rebounder off the bench. He is a big body who may earn more minutes as the season progresses. However, because of the Macs’ talent and experience in the frontcourt, Ryan will not play much this coming season.

Alon Jakubowitz- Big man Alon Jakubowitz is a major unknown for this smaller Macs team. During practices, he sometimes looks as if he can challenge Gabe Leifer as the conference leader in blocks. He has great timing when it comes to shot-blocking and has the length to contest attempts all the way out to the three-point line. An issue, though, is that he is among the slower players on the team, and is very raw offensively. Alon may get some minutes against teams with a dominant big man. However, I don’t think he will get much playing time this year unless he works hard on his offensive game, becoming a better shooter and well-polished finisher around the rim.

Sammy Mandel- Third-year player Sammy “Muscles” Mandel is as strong and athletically gifted as anyone else on the Macs. Listed at 6 feet, Sammy makes the crowd rise when he goes up for a dunk or block. On the other hand, Sammy’s ball-handling skills along with his defensive awareness could use improvement, holding him back from playing significant minutes.

Jasper Newman- Jasper Newman is a first-year student from Rochester, NY. He has a good back-to-the-basket game and is an effective rim-runner. Jasper is an athletic player who will throw down the occasional dunk. Just like many other members of the team, the rookie will not see many minutes, as there are other big men ahead of him on the depth chart.

Edan Sokol- Edan Sokol, the younger brother of former Macs player Ariel Sokol, is a sweet-shooting wing from Los Angeles, California. Edan loves to shoot threes, and knocks down a high percentage of them. However, he could use some work on defensive rotation, and sometimes misses passing opportunities, which are reasons why the second-year student will likely get few minutes this year.

Michael Bixon- Michael Bixon is a third-year, rim-running big man from Florida. His jump shot could use improvement, but he is a tenacious rebounder. Michael is built like a tank and sets hard screens. On the other hand, he has been injured for much of the past two seasons, resulting in little-to-no playing time; I do not think that Bixon will have the opportunity to play much this year.

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