Drew Kahn had a life-changing experience at the recent Pan American Maccabi Games.
The junior guard from Noble & Greenough School starred for the Team USA U18 squad that captured a pair of gold medals Jan. 3-4 in Buenos Aires. Kahn led the tournament in scoring, sank an overtime buzzer-beater in the championship game of the 3x3 tournament, and earned Most Outstanding Player honors — all as the youngest player on his team.
But the 17-year-old from Wellesley left Argentina with more than just athletic accolades. He built relationships with Jews from around the world, and in playing to honor his country and Jewish roots, gained a new sense of purpose and self.
“Ever since the plane ride home, I’ve wanted to go back,” Kahn said. “I made friends, won games, represented my country, and my religion. It was a dream. It was the perfect experience.”
This year’s Maccabi Games, a multi-sport event with Jewish athletes from North, Central, and South America, as well as Australia and Israel, came at a particularly meaningful time following the Oct. 7th attacks on Israel, and the subsequent surge of antisemitism around the globe.
Kahn said everyone competed with heavy hearts, and before each game, the players said a prayer for the people of Israel. Argentinian President Javier Milei delivered a moving speech about unity at the opening ceremonies.
“Even though we were all competing against each other, it felt like we were one big family,” Kahn said.
Initially, Kahn was nervous about the trip. He had only left the country a handful of times and didn’t know any of his teammates. But once he landed in Argentina on Christmas Day, following a four-day training camp in New Jersey, Kahn felt at peace.
He formed a quick bond with his teammates as they took 6 a.m. bus rides through the city to practice, joined together for meals, and piled up wins in the tournament. Those bonds extended to athletes from other countries. Kahn grew close with members of the Australian team and learned the importance of having an open-mind while connecting with athletes from Argentina and Brazil.
“It’s really cool to know you have a connection with someone from across the world,” said Kahn. “We were bonded by this crazy experience we had. It’s surreal.”
Kahn’s father Larry, mother Stephanie, and sister Ally, arrived in Buenos Aires on Dec. 29, just in time to watch Drew’s standout play on the court. A starter at Nobles since his freshman season, Kahn has always been an elite shooter, but has added playmaking to his repertoire over the years.
The 6-foot-3-inch Kahn averaged 18 points and 4 assists in the 3x3 and 5x5 tournaments, played under FIBA rules. In the 5x5 championship game against Argentina, Kahn netted a team-high 17 points as Team USA edged the hosts in the final minutes. Players went wild. They collapsed on the court. Some cried.
“It was high-level basketball, but for Drew it was an incredible life experience,” said Larry Kahn. “Being in a foreign country and being able to meet a whole group of people, we were happy he had the chance to do that.”
Kahn is garnering interest from Harvard, Brown, and Tufts, among others, and hopes his experience at the Maccabi Games propels his career. Kahn leads Nobles in scoring (17 points per game) behind a determined work-ethic and strong leadership skills. He represented the Nobles community well.
“Nobles couldn’t be prouder of how Drew represented both his school and our country,” said Nobles athletic director Alex Gallagher. “To get gold medals in multiple events is a credit to his work ethic and to the hunger he had to help his teams succeed.”
Since returning home on Jan. 7, Kahn’s team group chat has remained active, reliving the memories. On the floor in his bedroom sits a pile of jerseys swapped after each game, a subtle, yet important, reminder from the trip.
“The most important thing for me in basketball is learning values and meeting new people,” said Kahn. “It’s an experience that I will always remember. It was life-changing.”
▪ East Boston opened with four straight losses, capped with a 47-46 heartbreaker at Lynn Tech. Since then, the Jets have rattled off five straight wins, topping Lynnfield (59-32) in the Revere Holiday Tournament, then edging D3 power St. Mary’s, 54-52, on Jan 10, before coming back to defeat O’Bryant (54-48) Jan 12. Senior forwards Christian Sanders and Javon Wise Normil combined for 29 points and 19 rebounds and the Jets (5-4) put together a 12-0 run in the fourth quarter to erase a 48-40 deficit for a home win over St. Mary’s. Two nights later, Eastie trailed by 5 points entering the fourth quarter before taking down O’Bryant behind double -oubles from Sanders and Normil. Head coach Tyrone Figueroa (’04), a former all-scholastic running back at Eastie, credited a slew of guards for their defensive pressure in both wins. Islam Mohammed, Xander Boutros, Caleb Florence, and Draggo Tejeda Feliz led the Jets defense, with Robin Cartegena and Alejandro Garcia chipping in at both ends. “I told the kids if they want to be involved in the mix, they need to win this game [against St. Mary’s],” Figueroa said. “Everyone will start taking about Eastie again if you prove you belong. We are trying to build something special here, and the kids are starting to buy in.”
▪ Peabody senior Anthony Forte scored 23 points during a 75-51 win over Marblehead Tuesday to become the seventh player in program history to reach 1,000 points and the first in 17 years … Clinton coach Steve Manguso reached 500 wins this week (with 435 coming previously at Milford), Millbury’s Steve Reno notched his 400th, and Hopkinton’s Tom Keane netted his 300th.
▪ Two of the best prospects in New England history squared off Sunday at the HoopHall Classic in Springfield when Brockton’s AJ Dybantsa led Prolific Prep (Calif.) against Maine’s Cooper Flagg and powerhouse Monteverde Academy (Fla). Dybantsa, a 6-foot-8 wing, is the consensus No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2025, and Flagg is the projected top pick in the 2025 NBA Draft after he plays at Duke next season.
Games to Watch
Tuesday, Archbishop Williams at St. Mary’s, (6:30 p.m.) — While Archies has moved up to Division 2, this Catholic Central League showdown is a rematch of the D3 state championship last March.
Tuesday, Bedford at No. 18 Waltham, (7 p.m.) — The leaders of the DCL Foley Division bring a combined 15-1 record into this clash, with Bedford’s sole loss coming in nonleague action at Tewksbury.
Wednesday, No. 11 Charlestown at New Mission, (6:30 p.m.) — New Mission debuted atop the D5 power rankings and is coming off a narrow loss to Bridgewater-Raynham Sunday at the Citi Team Classic. Charlestown dropped a heartbreaker to Wareham on the same court at Emmanuel College.
Friday, No. 15 Central Catholic at No. 3 North Andover, (6:30 p.m.) — Zach Wolinski and North Andover welcome sophomore Javi Lopez and Central Catholic in another great Merrimack Valley Conference game.
Sunday, No. 4 Lawrence at No. 8 BC High, (1 p.m.) — Bill Loughnane’s relatively inexperienced BC High squad is playing one of the toughest schedules in the state, with this nonleague matchup following a Friday night test at top-ranked Catholic Memorial.
Nate Weitzer contributed to this story.