Len is the highest drafted Terrapin since Steve Francis went 2nd overall in 1999
BROOKLYN – Alex Len was selected fifth overall in the first round of the NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns on Thursday evening.
Len, a 7-foot-1 center from Antratsit, Ukraine, is the 18th player in Maryland history to be taken in the first round, and is the highest drafted Terrapin since Steve Francis went second overall in 1999.
“We are very proud of Alex,” said head coach Mark Turgeon. “He has worked extremely hard to become a top five selection in the NBA Draft. He is committed to getting better each day and will continue to do so as he makes the transition to the NBA. Alex has come such a long way in just two years both on and off the court and we are all very excited for what the future holds for him. This is a great day and exciting time for the Maryland Basketball program.”
In two years at Maryland, Len transformed his body and game, adding more than 30 pounds of muscle and nearly doubling his scoring average from his freshman to sophomore year. Len led the team in rebounds (7.9 per game) and ranked second in scoring (11.9 per game) as a sophomore in 2012-13. He also led the Atlantic Coast Conference in blocked shots and was a member of the All-ACC Defensive Team.
Len is the first Terrapin selected in the first round of the draft since 2010, when Greivis Vasquez was taken 28th overall by the Memphis Grizzlies.
Besides Vasquez, Jordan Williams (2011, New Jersey Nets), James Gist (2008, San Antonio), D.J. Strawberry (2007, Phoenix) and Steve Blake (2003, Washington) were Maryland’s most recent selections in the draft, all taken in the second round.
Gaithersburg Md.- Sports International Group announced today that NBA Draft candidate Alex Len has undergone successful surgery to stabilize a partial stress fracture in his left ankle. The surgery was performed by renowned Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“This was a preventative measure to stabilize a partial stress fracture of the ankle,” said Dr. Anderson. “Although it is possible that this injury could have healed on its own, surgery was felt to be the safest and surest option to ensuring a long and successful NBA career for Alex. His prognosis is excellent, and I
anticipate he’ll make a full return to basketball within the next few months.”
Len opted for surgery after several opinions from orthopedic specialists. “I decided that surgery was the best long term option for my career,” said Len. “I didn’t want to risk it not healing properly. I want to make sure I’m fully healthy and ready for training camp.”
The surgery will keep Len out of action 4-6 months and will force him to miss all on-court activities leading up to the 2013 NBA Draft.
“The tough part about Alex’s injury is the timing,” said Len’s agent Michael Lelchitski. “Everyone who knows Alex knows that he would have been incredible in the pre-draft workout setting. However, Alex is one of the elite prospects with arguably the biggest upside of anyone in the draft. The most important thing is his long-term health.”
Len, who is a likely lottery pick, was diagnosed with the partial stress fracture after he had declared for the NBA Draft.
Dez Wells given the Greivis Vasquez Award for Most Inspirational Player
COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Alex Len was given the Len Bias Award as the most valuable player as the University of Maryland men’s basketball team held its awards banquet Wednesday at the Riggs Alumni Center.
Players, coaches, staff and supporters gathered to celebrate a season that saw the Terrapins win 25 games, their most since 2006-07. Voice of the Terrapins Johnny Holliday emceed the event, which also featured a 2012-13 highlight video and remarks from coach Mark Turgeon and seniors James Padgett and Logan Aronhalt.
In addition to being named MVP, Len earned the Len Elmore Award for most rebounds after finishing with 298. He was also given the Buck Williams Award for Most Valuable Defensive Player; Len’s 78 blocks in 2012-13 are the eighth most in a single-season in school history.
Sophomore Dez Wells was selected for the Greivis Vasquez Award for Most Inspirational Player. Awards for MVP and Most Inspirational Player were voted on by the players.
Juan Dixon was on hand to present the award for Most Improved Player – named after himself – to freshman Jake Layman. Fellow freshman Shaquille Cleare was given the Walt Williams Coaches Award for being the most coachable player.
Pe’Shon Howard, who led the Terps with 131 assists, won the Steve Blake Award for assists, while Aronhalt won the Tom McMillen award for Academic Achievement. Aronhalt had a 4.0 GPA in his first year pursuing a graduate degree in exercise physiology.
“I want to start off saying this: it has been two wonderful years here. I am thankful for everything. Thank you to the coaching staff, the administration and academic staff to help me succeed at the University of Maryland.
“I have decided to take the next step and enter my name into the NBA Draft. My family and I have been thinking about this for some time now. With Coach Turgeon we came to the decision, and we think this is going to be a great decision for me, and my career. I am very blessed and thankful to have had the opportunity to be a Terp. I want to thank the Maryland Basketball family for welcoming me with open arms and for helping me become the person I am today.
“I want to thank Coach Turgeon. When I got here he asked me what my goals were. I told him that I wanted to be an NBA player. I want to thank him and the entire coaching staff for putting me in the position to accomplish that goal. I also want to thank my teammates. They were always there for me on and off the court. We shared some great moments together and I will always have these memories for the rest of my life.
“I want to thank the best fans that any team has. They always came out to support us no matter the score or even the weather. They always stood up behind us 100 percent and I hope they will continue to stand behind me in the next phase of my basketball career. I will always be a Terp.”
On how he came about this decision:
“After the season I talked to my family and met with Coach Turgeon to talk about it. We have been thinking about it and we came to the conclusion that the right time was now.”
On where he has to improve:
“The last two years I came here I learned a lot and really improved. All you can do is work hard. I am excited for this next step. All I want to do is work hard and learn as much as I can.”
On telling his teammates he was declaring and how they reacted:
“The guys were really excited for me and they told me it was the right decision. They were just excited.”
On favorite NBA teams:
“I watch a lot of NBA, but I don’t have any preferences. I have favorite players but I’m going to play for any team that chooses me. I want to go somewhere I can contribute and I can improve myself.”
On if he considered coming back:
“During the season I didn’t think about it at all. I was just focused on the season. After the season I made the decision together with my family and coach Turgeon and we just decided it was the best decision.”
On if he’s looking forward to the NBA game:
“I’m excited. It’s going to be a huge step. The post in the NBA is a different game and I’m ready for that. I’m just ready to work hard.”
Head Coach Mark Turgeon
“I want to thank everyone for coming out. I know this has been a lingering story. You can’t keep secrets, especially good secrets very easily. It is an exciting day for all of us, our program, for Alex. It just seems like yesterday that he walked into our office; it was August of our first year here. This big seven-foot skinny kid walks in. He knows very little English, and less than two years later he is going to put his name in the draft and most likely be a lottery pick. I think top ten pick before it is all said and done.
“Quick little story, his mom came in when he committed and he gave me this little turtle for Maryland. She said I am giving Alex to you as a baby, when he leaves here I want him to be a man. He has grown up a lot. In two years I have never seen a kid learn a language, learn the game, the European game is a lot different than ours, and just the way he has progressed. I don’t think I have ever been around a player who has progressed as much as Alex has as quickly as he has. The reason the NBA is so intrigued and I know he is going to be a great pro is that he is only 19. I can’t imagine where he is going to be when he is 23.”
On Alex’s contributions to the team:
“I think we finished third or fourth in the country in field-goal percentage defense, and it was for one reason. It was this guy right here. The Iowa game, we would have lost by 20 if he wasn’t out there altering shots and blocking shots. His shot-blocking late in the season — really it was at the Virginia game. I was always talking about being a presence at the rim. ‘Protect the rim, Alex.’ I’d hit him on his chest so he had to look down at me — I didn’t hit him hard — but he’d look down at me and I’d just say protect the rim. He’s an unbelievable shot blocker and that’s what I asked him to do. He’s special. I talked to a couple NBA guys yesterday that had really high picks and I told them don’t mess up. I think he can be the No. 1 pick. They’re talking about the other guy being No. 1, and you guys saw the same game I saw when we played them earlier in the year. This kid’s going to be special.”
On the sense of pride he has:
“Alex and I teared up a little bit in our office when he said he was leaving because I was like, “Wow, it happened so quick.” That’s why I came to Maryland. To coach guys like Alex. He wasn’t the first kid to commit to us, but he was the first player to commit to us that played for us – if that makes sense. For him to be a lottery pick a year later says a lot about him, says a lot about how lucky we were to get him and also our program and our staff. A guy who hasn’t been mentioned is Kyle Tarp, the strength and conditioning coach. He did a great job. He put 30 pounds on this guy in one summer and so it’s just really good for our program. Hopefully I’m here for a long time. I’m going to have an NBA wall and he’s going to be the first one and hopefully this becomes an annual event for us where we have someone going to the NBA draft in the first round.”
COLLEGE PARK, Md. – University of Maryland sophomore center Alex Len is forgoing his final two years of collegiate eligibility to enter the NBA Draft.
Len and head coach Mark Turgeon will hold a press conference in the Comcast Center media room Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.
“I’m very grateful for the two years I’ve spent at Maryland and for everyone that has supported me during my time here,” said Len. “It’s been an honor to play here and I’ve learned so much. I want to thank Coach Turgeon and the coaching staff for believing in me and helping me grow as a player and a person. I also want to thank my teammates who were always there for me. We shared some great moments together. I’ve grown a lot, both on the court and off the court, over the past two years and I am looking forward to the next chapter of my life.”
“I’m very proud of Alex and am excited for what the future holds for him,” said Turgeon. “To see the progress he’s made on the court, in the classroom and socially has been a truly rewarding experience. Alex has worked incredibly hard since he got here and he has earned this opportunity.”
Len averaged 11.9 points per game and 7.8 rebounds per game while leading the ACC with 78 blocks in 2012-13. The 7-foot-1 native of Antratsit, Ukraine, was named honorable mention All-ACC and was a member of the All-ACC Defensive team last season.
Len dramatically increased his productivity from his freshman to sophomore season, making improvements in nearly every statistical category. His scoring went from 6.0 points per game to 11.9, while his rebounding increased from 5.4 to 7.8 per game. For his career, Len holds averages of 9.7 points per game, 7.0 rebounds per game and 2.1 blocks per game. He played in 60 games with 48 starts, 37 of those coming in 2012-13.
But the guy all of Australia said was “the next Greg Norman” finally did.
Good on ya mate.
Adam Scott proved once again what anyone who plays golf seriously already knew. It always comes down to putting. Scott’s 20-footer at 18 in regulation, the 4-footer at the first playoff hole, and the 12-footer that won him the green jacket were all putts he’ll remember forever, particularly since two of them were of the “miss or go home” variety.
That he coughed up the British Open in the final hour last July makes Sunday’s win at the Masters even more gratifying. He won’t be this generation’s Colin Montgomerie, a player with great talent who brushed up against a major title or two but never could close the door. Now, with this win, Scott likely will be a force in major championship golf for as long as puts in the work that’s required to win one of golf’s four majors.
He’s no longer “the best player without a major championship”.
That’s a great way to wake up on a Monday morning.
Good luck Alex Len.
You’re gonna get your feelings hurt, kid.
Don’t look now, but if the season ended today (man, I HATE when people say that…it’s NOT ending today), Clay Buchholz of the Red Sox would be your Cy Young winner. In three starts, his ERA is 0.41 and his WHIP is 0.95. He can’t pitch every day, though, which means the Red Sox are doomed for a .500 or so finish. But for years, people have been talking about this guy as a Cy Young-type and in 2013, albeit over three starts, he’s showing that form.
I completely understand (I don’t like it — but I understand) why the folks at Augusta didn’t DQ Tiger Woods on Saturday morning. They took the liberty of invoking a new rule put in place by the R&A and the USGA in 2011 that basically says “a penalty of disqualification can be waived if the circumstances are deemed extraordinary…” In this case, it would appear as if Tiger not knowing the rules — or, admittedly, trying to nudge his way past one of the one without anyone noticing — is now an “extraordinary circumstance”. And, further, it would appear that Augusta National’s inability to correctly deal with Tiger’s rules blunder on Friday afternoon is also now labeled “an extraordinary circumstance”. I’m a big Tiger Woods fan, but the fact he played in the Masters on Saturday and Sunday is disappointing. I like golf the way it used to be played. If you broke a rule and it was caught during the round, before you signed your card, there was a penalty. If you broke a rule and it wasn’t discovered until after you signed your card, you were then disqualified for having signed an incorrect scorecard.
I also understand why folks lashed out at Adam Jones after his bubble-blowing faux pas on Friday night in New York. It looks like you’re hot dogging when you blow a bubble in the middle of an effort to make a play, in the same way it would be considered hot dogging if the second baseman caught a grounder and instead of throwing it to first base the “traditional way” he instead decided to throw it behind his back to first base. I don’t think Jones was hot dogging it on Friday night. I think blowing bubbles while you’re trying to play professional baseball looks dumb, personally, but I’m of the belief he simply made an error. Nothing more.
As soon as Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported the news, I knew what the response was going to be.
“He’s not ready.”
“See you in the D-League.”
“Maybe he should have asked Jordan Williams for some advice.”
What Wojnarowski reported is what we all expected was coming since the Maryland Terrapins lost to the Iowa Hawkeyes in the NIT semifinals two weeks ago. Center Alex Len will forgo his final two years of eligibility and enter the NBA Draft. Wojnarowski noted Len will hold a press conference later in the week in College Park to make the news official.
In fairness, the news has been “official” roughly since the Terrapins tipped off against Kentucky at the Barclays Center this past November. On that night, Len went off for 23 points and 12 rebounds while working to hold Wildcats freshman phenom Nerlens Noel to just four points.
That Nerlens Noel is still expected by many to be the #1 pick in the NBA Draft despite the fact that there’s no guarantee he’ll be able to return from a torn ACL in time to start the 2013-2014 season.
If you shut down a guy that is thought to be the #1 pick despite a torn ACL, you’re probably going to be in pretty damn good shape to end up a top pick yourself. But if Alex Len’s uneven play for most of the 2012-2013 season left anyone questioning where his stock sat, he addressed that swiftly just after Valentine’s Day.
On February 16, Len went toe-to-toe with another expected NBA Lottery pick. In his showdown with Duke’s Mason Plumlee, the Terps’ big man scored 19 points and pulled down nine rebounds while limiting the Blue Devils’ first team All-ACC center to just four points and three rebounds.
Fans who rushed the floor after Maryland’s win that night at Comcast Center might as well have asked the Ukranian big man if they could borrow money from him this summer. A scout in attendance that night told me that while he wasn’t completely sold on Len’s game, he knew the soon-to-be former Terp wouldn’t be falling out of the Top 10 in the Draft.
I never sensed that Maryland fans were particularly hopeful that Len would decide to pass on money in favor of another year’s worth of seasoning, so I was understanding of why the reaction wasn’t particularly disappointing Sunday night.
I also understand many of the responses about Len’s “readiness” to make the jump to the NBA. I saw the same player who lacked the physical toughness to use his over seven foot frame to go right at defenders on many occasions. I saw the same guy that appeared a little too willing to settle for jump shots in post-up situations. I saw the same guy that looked like he might have the talent to be an All-American but who instead seemed to forget when games were scheduled to tip-off in ACC play.
I question Alex Len’s “readiness” about as much as the rest of you, but I understand why scouts believe he’s capable of still making improvements at the next level.
Inexplicably, Maryland’s win over Duke provided a bit of a blueprint for what scouts see in Len as a pro. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is as stubborn as he is successful, choosing to keep Plumlee (and a couple others) matched up one on one with Len instead of doubling him. At the next level, Len will be more likely to see similar styles of defense, especially considering the longer three point line and greater amount of available space on the floor for offensive players to use.
Combine that with the fact that Len proved himself to be a strong defender and capable rebounder and it’s much more easy to understand why NBA types believe Len’s collegiate production might not be indicative of what he has to offer at the pro level.
Moreover, I’m a bit troubled by how dismissive Maryland fans have been about Len’s departure. Len’s 12 points and eight rebound averages don’t seem particularly significant until you remember Maryland averaged just over 60 points per game as a team during ACC regular season play. For all of Len’s struggles, he equated to about a fifth of their overall offense and did much more defensively.
Maryland also loses Senior big man James Padgett this offseason, meaning they will return with sophomores-to-be Charles Mitchell and Shaquille Cleare up front to combine with incoming Michigan transfer Evan Smotrycz and incoming freshman Damonte Dodd. The inexperienced group will be expected to carry the load, but more importantly wings Dez Wells and Nick Faust will be needed to carry the offensive load with more consistency.
The loss of Alex Len may by no means be damning to the Terps’ chances of reaching their first NCAA Tournament since 2010, but dismissing the significance is can only be an attempt to justify the acceptance in a fan’s own mind. Maryland is not only not even remotely better without Alex Len, they are most certainly a worse team today than they were when they fell to the Hawkeyes at Madison Square Garden.
So fare the well, Alex Len. I’ll always be thankful for this.
TV: Semifinals – ESPN2 – Bob Wischusen (Play-by-Play), Bill Raftery (Analyst) & Dan Dakich (Analyst)
Radio: Terrapin Sports Radio Network – Johnny Holliday (Play-by-Play) & Chris Knoche (Analyst)
• Maryland is playing in the National Invitation Tournament semifinals for the third time in history and first time since 2005 after dispatching No. 1 seed Alabama, 58-57, last Tuesday. The Terrapins are 14-6 all-time in the NIT and 1-1 in the semifinals; they captured the title in 1972 with wins over Jacksonville and Niagara, and fell in the 2005 semis to South Carolina.
• In winning at Alabama, Maryland captured its 25th victory of the season, the most for the program since 2006-07 when the Terps were 25-9. A win in the semifinals would give Maryland its most victories since it had 32 in the 2001-02 national championship season.
• Since opening postseason play in the ACC Tournament, Maryland has played some of its best basketball, winning five out of the last six games. Dez Wells has carried the scoring load in the postseason, averaging 18.3 points per game on .574 shooting from the field, including .727 (8-11) from 3-point range. Wells’ scoring surge goes back to the regular season – the sophomore is averaging 17.8 points per game on .558 (67-120) shooting in the last 10 games.
• Alex Len recorded a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds at Alabama, his sixth of the season and first since the home win over Boston College on Jan. 22. Len also matched a career high with five blocks. At 11.5 points per game, the sophomore is one of four Terps averaging double-figure scoring in the postseason. Nick Faust is averaging 11.2 points per game and is shooting .400 (10-25) from 3-point range. The fourth, freshman Seth Allen, averaged 10.8 points per game off the bench in five postseason games, but fractured a bone in his shooting hand in practice on March 24 and will miss the rest of the postseason.
• The Terps are set to meet Iowa for just the third time in history. Maryland won each of the previous meetings, in 1984 and in 1999. Should they advance, the Terps would be playing their first ever game against either Baylor or BYU.
Maryland (24-12, 8-10 ACC) at Alabama (23-12, 12-6 SEC)
National Invitation Tournament – Quarterfinals
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 • 7:30 p.m. ET
Game #37 • Road Game #11 • Tuscaloosa, Ala. • Coleman Coliseum
TV: ESPN – Bob Wischusen (Play-by-Play) & Jimmy Dykes (Analyst)
Radio: Terrapin Sports Radio Network – Johnny Holliday (Play-by-Play) & Chris Knoche (Analyst)
• Maryland will play in the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament for the third time in history and first time since 2005 when it takes on Alabama in Tuscaloosa Tuesday night. The Terrapins advanced to the quarters with wins over Niagara and Denver last week in College Park.
• In its two previous quarterfinal appearances Maryland is 2-0, beating Syracuse 71-65 in 1972 and topping TCU 85-73 in 2005. The Terps are seeking their third trip to New York for the semifinals and finals, having won the title in 1972 and lost in the semis in 2005.
• Since opening postseason play in the ACC Tournament, Maryland has played some of its best basketball, winning four out of the last five behind the play of Dez Wells and Nick Faust. Wells is averaging 19.4 points per game on .586 (34-58) shooting, while Faust is averaging 12.8 points per game. As a team, Maryland is shooting .476 from the field, .386 from 3-point range and .797 from the free throw line.
• Over the past 10 games, Faust is shooting .500 (43-86) from the field, .442 (19-43) from 3-point range and averaging 13.2 points per game. He has scored in double figures in seven straight games. Wells, meanwhile, is averaging 18.3 points per game over the last nine and shooting .564 (61-110) from the field in that span.
• In both its first- and second-round wins, Maryland dominated the second half en route to double-digit wins. The Terrapins were tied at 35 with Niagara before outscoring the Purple Eagles 51-35 in the final 20 minutes. Against Denver, Maryland trailed 30-27 at halftime, but used a 23-4 run over the game’s final nine minutes to win 62-52.
• The Terps will be meeting Alabama just the fifth time in history. Maryland leads the series 3-1, though the Crimson Tide won the last meeting, 62-42 in the 2011 Puert
Maryland (23-12, 8-10 ACC) vs. Denver (22-9, 16-2 WAC)
National Invitation Tournament – Second Round
Thursday, March 21, 2013 • 7 p.m. ET
Game #36 • Home Game #21 • College Park, Md. • Comcast Center
TV: ESPNU – Mike Patrick (Play-by-Play) & LaPhonso Ellis (Analyst)
Radio: Terrapin Sports Radio Network – Johnny Holliday (Play-by-Play), Chris Knoche (Analyst) & Walt Williams (Sidelines)
• Maryland continues play in the National Invitation Tournament as it plays host to the University of Denver Thursday at 7 p.m. in Comcast Center in the first ever meeting between the two schools. The Terrapins advanced to the second round of the NIT with an 86-70 win over Niagara Tuesday night.
• The quick turnaround has Maryland playing its fifth game in eight days. Despite the busy stretch, the Terrapins have played some of their best basketball as of late – over the last four games, Maryland is averaging 80 points per game, shooting .479 from the field, .408 from 3-point range and .798 from the free-throw line.
• Dez Wells and Nick Faust have increased their scoring recently, with Wells averaging 18.3 points per game over the last eight games and Faust averaging 13.3 over the last nine. In that eight-game stretch, Wells is shooting .550 (55-100) from the field and .438 (7-16) from 3-point range. Faust has also shot it well, having hit .506 (41-81) from the field and .450 (18-40) from 3PT.
• Wells led Maryland to the semifinals of the ACC Tournament last weekend, averaging 22.0 points per game en route to first team All-Tournament honors. The sophomore had a career-high 30 points on 9-of-13 shooting in the 83-74 quarterfinal win over No. 2 Duke, making all 10 of his free throw attempts while adding six rebounds and three assists.
• In the win over Niagara, Maryland dominated the second half after going into the locker room tied at 35. Faust, Seth Allen and Logan Aronhalt each had 15 points, while Wells added 12 and Charles Mitchell had 10. That marked the third time in the last four games that five Terrapins scored in double figures. Aronhalt scored all 15 of his points on 3-pointers (5-7), and Faust recorded his first career double-double by grabbing 11 rebounds to go along with his 15 points.