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Newton’s Geoff Gray played for Emerson College before signing with the Israeli Basketball Premier League.
Newton’s Geoff Gray played for Emerson College before signing with the Israeli Basketball Premier League.James Valente.

Geoff Gray knew his basketball career wasn’t over when Emerson College lost in the first round of the 2019 Division 3 NCAA Tournament.

Over the course of his final collegiate season, Gray led the Lions to their first NCAA Tournament appearance and averaged 20.4 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. He began to realize a once far-fetched aspiration could become a reality.

The 6-foot-2 guard and 2015 Newton South graduate inked a one-year deal with Hapoel Eilat of the Israeli Basketball Premier League. The terms of the deal, which was announced Friday, were not disclosed.

“It’s kinda always been a dream of mine,” Gray said. “I went on Birthright two summers ago, and when I went out there, I saw the culture, how much they love basketball, and the country is beautiful.”

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After putting up just 4.3 points per game as a freshman, Gray averaged at least 18 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists in each of his final three seasons with the Lions. He credits Emerson coach Bill Curley and associate head coach Jack Barrett for helping him transform into a professional level player.

“When I had really developed my game my junior year, I felt like I had put in enough work where I thought I could get there one day,” Gray said. “It all came together this year, I always wanted to be a winner, and we finally proved that.”

Gray signed with Israel-based agent Matan Siman-Tov of 2Talent Sports and Entertainment Group shortly after graduating with a degree in marketing communications.

That Gray is playing in Israel makes the experience extra meaningful. Because both of his parents, Howard and Susan, are Jewish, Gray was able to become a dual citizen of Israel and the United States. Gray doesn’t count towards the team’s six allotted foreign players citizen because he has an Israeli passport.

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Hapoel Eilat is entering its eighth season in Israel’s top professional basketball league. The Sharks went to the league semifinals last season. Gray thought he’d be destined for Israel’s second division, and is excited to start at the highest level.

“Sometimes when you go into an experience with no expectations and not knowing what’s in front of you, that’s the beauty of it because you don’t know what’s coming,” Gray said. “It just makes it more interesting and a better experience because you never know what’s going to happen.”


Greg Levinsky can be reached at greg.levinsky@globe.com.