Men's Basketball, Men's Sports, Sports

Gabe Levin stepping into his own his senior year

Gabe Levin wakes up at 4 a.m. every day to the sound of his father’s alarm clock. All he can think about is what his father always tells him:

“If you want to be successful you’re going to have to work hard.”

This was the lesson that the 23-year-old was taught by his father, Hillel Levin, who would always be the first one up in the house for work. It resonated with him and became the motivation behind Levin’s countless hours of training to become the basketball player he is today.

The 6-foot-7 forward has been impressive for the Long Beach State men’s basketball team in his final season, averaging 16.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists, a career best in all three categories. Levin has become the go-to player when a basket is needed, but he would not be in that position today if it wasn’t for his upbringing.

“Gabe [Levin] is one of the top offensive players in the Big West,” head coach Dan Monson said. “All he cares about is winning and his unselfishness is what sets him apart from other bigs.”

LBSU (12-12, 6-2 Big West) is currently on top of the Big West in large part Levin’s leadership.

The senior grew up in Oak Park, Illinois where Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard Iman Shumpert made a name for himself.

“It was a very diverse and competitive town,” Levin said. “Defense was a big thing here, and if you couldn’t defend there was no way you’d be able to keep up.”

Some of his inspirations growing up included San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard and Oklahoma City small forward Paul George, guys who are known as “two-way” players.

Levin always enjoyed to play the game recreationally, but never took it seriously until his junior year of high school at St. Thomas More Prep. One of his inspirations was his brother Aaron Levin who played at Grinnell College, a Division III program.

“I’ve had many proud big brother moments throughout his career,” Aaron said. “He bet on himself when he went to prep school, and it paid off.”

The brothers didn’t play much against each other, but because Gabe was the youngest he was in charge of rebounding, which became an integral part of his game.

“In the backyard we had a basket and I took the most advantage of it because I was so passionate about basketball,” Levin said. “Eventually the backboard fell off, so I had to learn how to shoot straight into the basket.”

At a summer league game Aaron saw Gabe finish an inaccurate lob that was thrown to him and realized that his brother was the real deal.

“That was the first time seeing him do that in person, and it was at that point where I realized he could be a special player,” Aaron said.

All of Levin’s hard work came to fruition when he committed to Hofstra University in Long Island, New York, but it would be a short stint due to the firing of head coach Mo Cassara. He quickly became a journeyman, transferring to Loyola Marymount followed by Marquette before landing at Long Beach State his sophomore year.

“I didn’t want my parents to pay for anything in college,” Gabe Levin said. “That was my biggest motivation.Assistant coach Senque Carey played a big role in bringing Levin to the Beach because of his role in recruiting Paul George from Fresno State. This attracted him to go under Carey’s wing and decide Long Beach would be his new home.

Since his first campaign as a 49er, Levin’s production has increased steadily, but after suffering a season-ending knee injury last year, it was a new challenge he had to face.

“Not being able to use my lower body helped me work on things that I never had time to do,” Gabe Levin said. “I got the chance to slow down and just build my foundation.”

The senior came into his final season refreshed and fully prepared to lead the team to the top of the Big West Conference.

Levin’s personality is to “lead through example,” but he also understands when it is time to double as a vocal leader. Whether it is scoring at will or getting his teammates involved, he plays the right way.

The forward doesn’t feel the pressure of having to lead the team because of the confidence he has in his teammates. The team has come together as of late, winning its last three and taking the top spot in the Big West.

Levin isn’t sure what happens next in his basketball career once he’s done with Long Beach, but knows basketball will always be part of his life.

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