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MEN’S BASKETBALL: Israel leaves Irish, set to transfer

Pat Leonard | Monday, November 14, 2005

Junior forward Omari Israel has left the Irish basketball program and has withdrawn from the University with the intent to enroll in another school, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey announced in a Friday afternoon press release and confirmed following that night’s 80-53 win.

Israel played 10 minutes in the team’s first exhibition game against Lewis and finished with two points and four rebounds. The 6-foot-9, 235-pound forward averaged 1.4 points and 1.8 rebounds in his sophomore season last year, his only full season as a member of the Irish team.

Israel has been nagged by injuries. He missed his entire freshman season recovering from knee surgery in February 2003 and had his knee scoped recently to remove debris from it.

Brey estimated in October that Israel would return Nov. 1 and said Friday that the forward practiced “probably about eight, nine, 10 days” after returning from the injury.

Brey was “not totally” surprised by Israel’s departure.

“I’m disappointed,” Brey said following Friday night’s game. “You never want to lose anybody, but college basketball is survival of the fittest. And in fairness to Omari, he wasn’t very healthy to compete this fall.”

Israel’s only available comments appeared in the press release.

“I believe that it is time for a change and I want to be able to move on with my basketball career,” Isreal said. “I have enjoyed my experience at Notre Dame and wish my teammates and the coaching staff all the best during the upcoming season and in the future. I always will remember my time here as a member of the Irish basketball program.”

Brey wished Israel the best but was not concerned about the team’s ability to move on.

“As I told [Omari] when I sat with him, I said I want him to be happy playing basketball and I want him to graduate from college,” Brey said. “We’ll help him find a place. I’ve been on this end of it when they go and I’ve been on the receiving end. I know how to do this dance. But I’m obviously very comfortable with what we have remaining, and I’m not worried about our numbers. We’re going to be OK there.”