Greensboro, N.C. — Former Guilford College basketball standout Ben Strong ’08 signed with the Maccabi Haifa Basketball Club Monday. The 6-10, 220-pound center will play with the Haifa Heat, which earned a spot in Ligat HaAl last spring following a 10-year absence. Strong inked a two-year guaranteed contract with a club option for a third year.
Ligat HaAl is Israel’s top professional basketball league and competes in the Euroleague. Last week, NBA veteran Carlos Arroyo signed with Ligat HaAl’s Maccabi Tel Aviv, a 47-time national champion and five-time Euroleague titlist.
Strong hopes to follow the footsteps of fellow Guilford alumnus M.L. Carr ’73, who played a season with the Israel Sabras before signing with the St. Louis Spirits of the ABA en route to a nine-year NBA career that included two world championships. Strong concluded a brilliant college career last spring by averaging 25.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. He garnered Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Player of the Year and First Team All-America honors from the National Basketball Coaches’ Association (NABC) and D3hoops.com for the second straight season. In 2006-07, Strong was named the NCAA Division III Player of the Year by the NABC and D3hoops.com. Guilford’s second all-time leading scorer (2,241 points), he led the Quakers to a 48-10 record, the 2008 ODAC title and two NCAA playoff appearances in his final two campaigns.
Located on the northern coast, Haifa is Israel’s third-largest city and had one of the original eight teams in the Basketball Super League. After enjoying great popularity in the 1980s, the team slumped the following decade and dropped into the third tier of Israeli basketball. After some reorganization, Haifa improved its standing and was purchased by American businessman Jeffrey Rosen in 2007. Playing in Israel’s second division last year, the fourth-seeded Heat knocked off the top seed in the league semifinals to return to the Ligat HaAl. The Heat found Strong during a July tryout in Miami, where it also signed Tamir Goodman (the “Jewish Jordan”), who signed out of high school with the University of Maryland before playing at Towson State University. Brooks Sales (Villanova), Todd Golden (St. Mary’s) and B.J. McKie (South Carolina) are among the Heat’s other American players.
Strong reports to Haifa’s preseason camp Aug. 28 in preparation for the team’s season opener Oct. 12.