Photo courtesy of Menlo School
Former Menlo School standout Drew Edelman was named tournament MVP as Team USA
captured the gold medal at the Maccabiah Games in Israel.
When recent Menlo School graduate and basketball standout Drew Edelman arrives on the campus of University of Southern California in a couple weeks to begin her collegiate basketball career, she’ll have quite the answer to the question: what did you do this summer?
All Edelman did was help lead the Team USA Junior Girls’ squad to a gold medal at the Maccabiah Games in Israel last month, winning the tournament Most Valuable Player award in the process.
“It was a lot of fun,” Edelman said. “I had never been out of [North America].”
The Maccabiah Games are a Jewish version of the Olympic Games. The Maccabiah Games are held every four years in Israel and are open to all of Jewish descent. Edelman went to a tryout in New York in December and made the team comprised of players ages 15 to 18 years old.
“There were a lot of people who showed up for the tryout,” Edelman said, estimating about 45 players over a two-day period.
After receiving word she made the team, Edelman finished up her season at Menlo, helping guide the Knights to the Central Coast Section Division IV championship and all the way to the Northern California tournament semifinals.
The last organized game in which Edelman played was the Knights’ 61-54 loss to Salesian-Richmond in the NorCal semifinals before leaving for Israel. She said there was an optional workout with the team in New York, but she declined to attend. The camp was in New York because most of the girls on the team were from the East Coast. Edelman and only one other player were from California.
When she finally arrived in Israel, it was a combination of work and play. The first week was spent getting up for a 5 a.m. practice, followed by another practice in the afternoon. The second week had only one practice, after which the teams spent time sightseeing around the country.
While Edelman admits she is not ultra religious, she did appreciate the time spent connecting with her Jewish heritage.
“It was definitely very important going to see all of these things,” Edelman said. “It is part of my heritage.”
When it finally came to game time, it was evident early on that there would not be a lot of challenges standing between Team USA and the gold medal. In fact, the competition in practice was often tougher than what the team faced in games.
“That’s a fair statement,” Edelman said.
Still, she admitted to be a bit nervous before taking the court to face Australia in the first round of pool play.
“We had no idea what to expect from [Australia],” Edelman said. “We had no clue how they would be. It was our first game I hadn’t played since [the school season ended]. Once we started playing, the nerves settled a little bit.”
Edelman went on to score 18 points in the Americans’ 76-19 win over Australia, which was just a precursor of things to come.
She followed that with a 15-point effort in a 79-36 win over Canada and then Edelman really went off. She scored 27 in an 81-46 win over Israel and then scored 30 in the championship game, a 77-26 win over Canada.
“I hadn’t played basketball in a long time. It was definitely helpful to play in some games,” Edelman said. “I’ve been playing pickup, but that’s not enough. I did get a lot of running in, getting used to the whole waking up early thing.
“I know at USC it will be times a hundred.”
Another Menlo School graduate, Will Tashman (2009), helped lead the U.S. Men’s Open Team to the gold medal as well.
Tashman averaged 11.4 points in five games, helping Team USA to an 87-76 win over Argentina in the gold-medal game, avenging an 86-83 loss to the Argentines in pool play.
He scored 14 points in the first game against Argentina and after an eight-point effort against Australia, rebounded to score 10 against Russia, 13 against Guinea Bissau and had 12 points in the championship game.
After graduating from Menlo, Tashman took his talents to Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In his four years with the Engineers, he helped guide the team to a combined record of 91-17. They advanced to the NCAA Division III tournament semifinals his junior season. This past year, he led the Engineers in scoring and rebounding and was named a Division III All-American.