Maryland lost its final home game to North Carolina, but the Terps crowd may have also seen the final appearance of center Alex Len.
Asked about his future following the game, Len said he hadn’t even thought about it. Despite Len’s response, speculation remains high that the 7’1” center from the Ukraine will leave Maryland after only his sophomore season and declare for the NBA draft.
For the season, Len averages 12 points and eight rebounds, good but not outstanding numbers. What NBA scouts see in Len is something that cannot be taught: size and athleticism.
Len has shown flashes of brilliance in his brief two-year career at Maryland. Against Kentucky and possible first overall NBA draft pick Nerlens Noel, Len scored 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Facing Duke’s Mason Plumlee in February, a possible All-American and ACC Player of the Year, Len dominated the paint with 19 points and nine rebounds.
But outside of those and a few other outstanding performances, Len has been more pedestrian. In Maryland’s first meeting with Duke in January, Plumlee limited Len to just eight points and was the more physical player. Against North Carolina -- in a game the Terps had to have for a shot at the NCAA Tournament -- Len was held in single digits scoring and did not make much impact on the game.
"We really didn’t have a low post game," Terps coach Mark Turgeon said after the 79-68 loss to the Tar Heels.
At times this season Maryland coach Mark Turgeon has effusively praised Len, but at other times he has questioned the sophomore’s intensity. Tonight, Turgeon did not seem impressed with the big man’s effort.
“When we threw him the ball, not much happened,” the coach said after the game.
NBADraft.net, a draft-centric website, predicts Alex Len will be drafted in the Top 10, a virtual guarantee for a lottery pick. That would mean millions of dollars for Len and his family, a fate hard to turn down.
But the young Len will need to make significant improvements to compete in the pros.
After the loss to North Carolina, Len said that constant double teams limited his effectiveness. NBA veterans may not need to double team Len to limit his effectiveness, and Len will be forced to play more aggressive.