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.
Etherly To Participate In Pre-Draft Workout For NBA’s Wizards
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Former Loyola University Maryland men’s basketball standout Erik Etherly (Alexandria, Va./Annandale H.S.) will participate in a pre-draft workout for the NBA’s Washington Wizards on Wednesday.
The two-time All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference First Team forward averaged 15.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game in 2012-2013 as the Greyhounds finished with a 23-12 record.
Etherly, who graduated in December with a bachelor of arts in communications, played in 93 games, making 89 starts, during his three seasons at Loyola. He averaged 13.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.3 blocked shots and 1.2 steals per game for the Greyhounds.
During his career, he helped Loyola win 62 games, including 47 over the course of the last two. The Greyhounds reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1994 during Etherly’s junior season (2011-2012), and they advanced to postseason play in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1949-1950, reaching the CIT Quarterfinals this season.
He also is the first player in Loyola history to earn All-District honors in consecutive years from the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). Over the final seven games of the 2012-2013 regular-season, Etherly had five games with 22 or more points, including three-straight with 23-plus.
Etherly’s 1,245 career points are 20th in Loyola history, and he joined teammate Robert Olson to accomplish the rare feat of reaching 1,000 career points in the same game in January at Fairfield University.
His 450 rebounds are 17th in program history, and his rebounds pre game mark is eighth. Etherly’s 121 career blocked shots are third all-time, and he is ninth in free-throws made.
Earlier, this spring, Etherly attended the prestigious Portsmouth Invitational.
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.
“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.”
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.
Etherly Named Alternate For Portsmouth Invitational
BALTIMORE – Just two weeks after concluding his collegiate career at Loyola University Maryland, forward Erik Etherly has been selected as an alternate at the 2013 Portsmouth Invitational Tournament.
Known as The “PIT”, the event is the only postseason camp that is open to college seniors only. It is used by NBA and European scouts as a proving ground for future professional players.
As an alternate, Etherly will attend The PIT but is not yet guaranteed a spot on a team.
Etherly was a two-time All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference First Team member, earning the honors in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 as Loyola won a combined 47 games and advanced to the postseason in consecutive season for the first time in the program’s Division I history.
This season, Etherly averaged 15.7 points and a team-high 6.5 rebounds per game in 30 contests, helping the Greyhounds to a 23-12 record and berth in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.
He earned National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All-District I Second Team honors for the second year in a row, the first Loyola player to do so.
Etherly earned his bachelor of arts degree in communications in December 2012 and then scored his 1,000th career point weeks later in a January game at Fairfield. Over the final seven games of the regular-season, he had five games with 22 or more points, including three in a row with 23-plus.
The native of Alexandria, Va., finished his three years at Loyola – he transferred to the Baltimore school in 2009 after playing his freshman season at Northeastern University – with 1,245 points, 669 rebounds, 140 assists, 121 steals and 114 blocked shots.
Loyola won 62 games in the three years he was on the court, and Etherly leaves the school as the No. 20 scorer in program history. He also finished 10th in both rebounds and steals and fourth in blocked shots.
This 2013 PIT will take place April 10-13 at Churchland High School in Portsmouth, Va.
NBA Draft Day 2012 is upon us. Talented, yet inexperienced players lead the list of those who will likely be taken in the top half of tonight’s draft. Who will the Washington Wizards select with the 3rd pick? Let’s break down their roster and the players available at #3 to find out who fits best.
The Washington Wizards are dead set on surrounding PG JohnWall with more perimeter talent.Having acquired Nene in the JaVale McGee trade and Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza for the expiring contract of Rashard Lewis — Washington has a veteran, defensive minded front line that will hopefully create more opportunities for John Wall & Co. Who that company may be is the better question. Second year guard Jordan Crawford showed flashes, but needs to find more consistency with his 3pt. shot and show greater defensive tenacity if he wants to be the full time starer. Aside from Wall and Crawford, there are no major perimeter scoring threats on this Wizards roster. Expect this to be addressed in Round 1.
What about the rest of the roster? They have NBA quality starters in Nene and Okafor with solid depth in second year PF Chris Singleton and the surprising Kevin Seraphin – who finally showed flashes of developing at the end of 2011. Ariza brings veteran experience and defensive leadership to the small forward position, giving second year forward Jan Vesely time to develop at his own pace (remember it took Dirk Nowitzki three years before he established himself as a consistent player). I’m not even going to talk about SF/PW Andray Blatche, the main clubhouse cancer and holdover from the old regime. The sooner Blatche is amnestied the better. The Wizards lack playmakers and should focus on drafting a player who can not only put theball in the net from the outside, but can create off the dribble and play solid defense. If it sounds like its asking a lot, it is.
Assuming that Kentucky PF Anthony Davis is the #1 pick in tonight’s draft, here are the top prospects expected to be available for the Wizards at #3.
Michael Kidd-Gilcrist, SF, Kentucky: Smooth, athletic wing player does everything to help his team win. Can get to the basket, plays solid on-ball defense and is a leader on the court. Would combine with Wall to make one of the more athletic fast break combo’s in the league, however lacks the 3pt. shot to spread the floor. Top tier prospect
Bradley Beal, SG, Florida: Long, athletic shooting guard would help Wall spread the floor. Some compare his shot to Ray Allen’s – though I’m not going to put him there just yet. Has the ability to create his own shot and is long enough to defend the biggest of 2-guards. A bit raw but has an extremely high ceiling. Top prospect
Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina: Barnes averaged over 17ppg for the Tar Heels this pasty ear while improving his 3pt. shot and play making ability. Highly touted out of high school, some have wondered why Barnes didn’t dominate at UNC. My guess – he’s more of a team player than coaches give him credit, letting his All-American teammates at UNC get their shots as well. Less high of a ceiling than Kidd-Gilcrest or Beal, Barnes has a more polished game and is NBA ready. Top prospect.
Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas: Extremely athletic big man, Robinson is NBA ready now. He scores in the post, rebounds, and plays high quality defense. There’s no reason Robinson won’t be an All-Star within in three years. Top prospect.
Wildcard: Austin Rivers, SG, Duke: The son of NBA coach Doc Rivers, Austin has the moxy to be a superstar in the NBA. Early comparison are to Kobe Bryant , though I don’t believe he posses Kobe type athleticism. Needs to work on his defense and strength, but with the right coach and system, should thrive in today’s NBA.
Who should the Wizards take?
Harrison Barnes. He gives John Wall an instant #1 option on the wing, has the ability to play shooting guard if necessary and gives Jordan Crawford one more year to develop.
Who will the Wizards take?
Beal. He’s got more upside than Barnes and could develop into one of the most athletic two guards in the league.
Hard to argue with either pick, but if I were GM, Barnes would be my choice. But that’s what is great about the NBA Draft, you just don’t know.
This article was written by Ryan Kerr, contestant in the ‘So you want to be a sports journalist competition’.