BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Last month, recent Lehigh men’s basketball standout and former two-time All-Patriot League honoree Jordan Cohen signed professionally with Maccabi Haifi, who play in Israel’s top division. Cohen, who finished his collegiate career with 1,301 points, led the Mountain Hawks in scoring last season (averaging 14.2 points per contest).
Maccabi Haifa is considered one of the top Israeli professional basketball teams, as the franchise was one of the original eight teams to form the Israeli Premier League in 1953-54.
“I am Jewish and with that, I’m able to gain citizenship in Israel,” said Cohen. “Because of the rules of European basketball, you can only have a certain number of imports (people not from the country). Being Jewish allowed me to gain citizenship, which allows me better opportunities in Israel. That’s how I ended up here.”
For Cohen, playing professionally is something he’s had his eye on for some time.
“When I first decided to play basketball, I was following my brothers,” he said. “I was pretty good at it and really liked it, so I continued to play. And probably right when I got my first scholarship for college, my expectation was to play college and then move on to playing professionally.”
Cohen is the 19th student-athlete in Brett Reed’s 13+ seasons as Lehigh head coach to have gone on to sign professionally. Cohen recently arrived in Israel. He doesn’t know exactly what to expect, but he plans on controlling what he can control… working hard.
“I’m looking to play point guard and two guard,” said Cohen. “Obviously I’m a rookie. It’s a bit of a transition, just like high school to college. People are grown men. I’m playing with a 37-year old on my team, a 35-year old and obviously, ages in between. The expectation is you go out there and fight for your spot.”
Three summers ago, Cohen spent more than two weeks in Israel as a member of the Maccabi USA team that went on to win Gold. That experience will only help in his transition to a new setting and different country.
“I was able to see a little bit of Israel, get a feel for it and know a little bit of what to expect,” said Cohen. “Since being here, I’ve had no issues. I’ve made friends and am friendly with my teammates so far. I have a nice apartment. As of right now, it doesn’t feel much different than the states, but I’m sure that will change as time goes on.”
— Lehigh M. Basketball (@LehighMBB) September 14, 2020
To follow Cohen this season, check out Maccabi Haifi on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or their official website.
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