When Rhamel Brown failed to hear his name called in the 2014 NBA Draft — a long-shot hope for sure, but still a dream of every college basketball player — the former Manhattan College star knew one thing: he wasn’t ready for the buttoned-up world of corporate life and daily rides on overcrowded subways.
No, Brown’s dream was to continue to do what he loved most -— find a way to make basketball his new career. And not long after graduating from Manhattan in May 2014 with a 3.0 GPA in management, Brown too his career far from Manhattan’s Riverdale campus.
He found his dream over 5,700 miles away, in Israel.
“I went to Israel in late September and it was all new to me,” said Brown, Manhattan College’s all-time leader with 367 blocks. “It was a big adjustment for me and the season was going to start very soon after I got there. So I got into practicing right away but I also had to learn the city that I was living in. It’s a town called Hod HaSharon and it’s about a 20-minute drive from Tel Aviv. But I had great teammates and they helped me out a lot.”
Brown was a dominant force at Manhattan during his four years with the Jaspers as he was named the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Defensive Player of the Year three times, was a two-time All-MAAC honoree and eclipsed 1,000 points in his career. It didn’t take long for his new team, Maccabi Hod HaSharon, to witness his prowess on the court. Brown averaged 12 points and 12 rebounds for the season which ended in early May and, of course, he averaged almost three blocks a game.
It was off the court, however, where Brown found some of his biggest challenges: a foreign language and homesickness.
“It was a really big adjustment going into this new environment and being around different people,” said Brown, who helped lead Manhattan to the MAAC Tournament title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament in his senior season in Riverdale. “Just walking down the street and you’re trying to find where you have to go and the street signs are in Hebrew. That was a little tough. It took some time to learn it a little bit.