Alex Len

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Alex Len
Олексій Лень
No. 21 – Phoenix Suns
Position Center
League NBA
Personal information
Born (1993-06-16) June 16, 1993 (age 21)
Antratsyt, Luhansk, Ukraine
Nationality Ukrainian
Listed height 7 ft 1 in (2.16 m)
Listed weight 265 lb (120 kg)
Career information
High school Dnipropetrovsk Higher College[1]
(Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine)
College Maryland (2011–2013)
NBA draft 2013 / Round: 1 / Pick: 5th overall
Selected by the Phoenix Suns
Pro playing career 2010–present
Career history
2010–2011 BC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (Ukraine)
2013–present Phoenix Suns
Stats at NBA.com

Oleksiy "Alex" Len (Ukrainian: Олексій Лень; born June 16, 1993) is a Ukrainian professional basketball player who currently plays for the Phoenix Suns of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Before being drafted, he played two seasons for the Maryland Terrapins of the Atlantic Coast Conference, as well as a season with BC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in his home nation's professional basketball league.

Early life[edit]

Len was born in Antratsyt, Luhansk, Ukraine to parents of miners.[2] In his youth, Len originally participated in gymnastics due to his love of watching Jackie Chan films back when he was 10. He also played chess during his youth and continues to play the game as a hobby. During his time training in gymnastics, Len was trained by Alexei Stepanenko, who had also trained Olympic gold medalist Ihor Korobchynskyi.[3] He started playing basketball at the age of 13 by request of his school's basketball coach (Mikhail Nikolayevich Lysovolenka) and attended Dnipropetrovsk Higher College in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine.[1] In addition to playing for Ukraine in the 2009 FIBA Europe Under-16 Championship, he was also a standout for the Ukraine national team at the 2010 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship. His performance during the latter tournament had him being the 4th best overall scorer, second best rebounder, and the best shot blocker over his competitors. Following the tournament, Len joined BC Dnipro of the Ukrainian Basketball SuperLeague for the 2010–11 season.

College career[edit]

He was the recipient of an athletic scholarship from the University of Maryland coach Gary Williams, but Williams resigned after the 2010-11 season, leading to Mark Turgeon to take his place. While Williams began recruiting Len, it was Turgeon who eventually lured him to Maryland. Len underachieved in his freshman year, averaging 6 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 2.1 BPG, but showed lottery pick potential after serving a ten game suspension at the beginning of the year due to NCAA amateurism issues resulting from his play with BC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, a European club team from his home nation.

Len opened his sophomore season on November 9, 2012 against the reigning champion Kentucky Wildcats, led by ESPN's #1 player of the 2012 recruiting class, Nerlens Noel. The game was played at the brand new Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Len overpowered Noel throughout the entire game, scoring 23 points with 12 rebounds and 4 blocks, while holding Noel to 4 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocks, although Kentucky won the game 72-69. Following the game, there was talk that Len could potentially be a top 5 pick in the upcoming draft. On January 16, 2013, Len ended up scoring 10 points and grabbed 6 rebounds, including a game-winning shot with 0.9 seconds in the game, to get a 51-50 upset over #14 North Carolina State. On February 16, 2013, Len again played a starring role, leading Maryland to an 83-81 upset victory over the top ranked Duke Blue Devils. Len put up 19 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks, while holding Duke star senior Mason Plumlee to 4 points.

College statistics[edit]

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
2011–12 Maryland 22 11 21.2 .553 .000 .587 5.4 0.6 0.2 2.1 6.0
2012–13 Maryland 38 37 26.4 .534 .125 .686 7.8 1.0 0.2 2.1 11.9
Career 60 48 24.5 .538 .111 .663 7.0 0.8 0.2 2.1 9.7

Professional career[edit]

2013 NBA Draft[edit]

On April 14, 2013, Len decided to declare for the 2013 NBA Draft. He was projected to land in the lottery, with some experts projecting Len as the #1 overall pick.[4][5] On May 3, 2013, Len ended up getting surgery on his left ankle that resulted in him being out for around 4-6 months.[6] He was selected 5th overall by the Phoenix Suns in the 2013 NBA draft. Len was the second international-born player to be selected in that draft, behind the first overall selection in Canadian-born Anthony Bennett, as well as the highest Ukrainian-born player to be drafted in the NBA, which was a record previously held by Vitaly Potapenko in 1996. He was also the first Phoenix Suns player to be taken in the Top 5 of an NBA draft since Armen Gilliam in 1987.

Phoenix Suns (2013–present)[edit]

Due to his ankle surgeries, he did not play on the Phoenix Suns' Summer League team. Len chose the number 21 for the Suns to honor Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan, his favorite players.[7] On July 12, 2013, Len ended up getting surgery on his right ankle due to a stress fracture.[8] He was officially signed by the Suns on August 29, 2013,[9] and was cleared to practice with them by early September.[10]

Len made his official NBA debut on November 1, 2013 at home in a close victory against the Utah Jazz. He sat out 7 games before returning on November 19, 2013 against the Sacramento Kings. However, a day later, Len re-injured his left knee and missed over 6 weeks before returning on January 7, 2014 against the Chicago Bulls. On January 19, 2014, Len scored a then-career high 9 points and 6 rebounds in a 117-103 victory over the Denver Nuggets. Len had his first 10-rebound game in a 126-117 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on January 29, 2014. Len made his first pro start on March 3, 2014 against the Los Angeles Clippers.

After what would be considered an underwhelming season for Len, he'd end up adding 10 pounds of muscle to his body before participating in the 2014 Suns' Summer League team. During his first game there, he would score 6 points and grab 6 rebounds for the Suns in a close loss to the Golden State Warriors. Unfortunately for Len, it would be the only game he'd play in the Summer League that season since he would have a right pinkie fracture during the aforementioned game.

NBA career statistics[edit]

Legend
  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high

Regular season[edit]

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
2013–14 Phoenix 42 3 8.6 .423 .000 .645 2.4 .1 .1 .4 2.0
Career 42 3 8.6 .423 .000 .645 2.4 .1 .1 .4 2.0

Ukrainian national basketball team[edit]

Junior national team[edit]

Len played for Ukraine's Under-16 national team during the 2009 FIBA Europe Under-16 Championship. Despite his performance throughout the tournament, which included a 20 point outing against Israel and averaging 8.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and being the second-best shot blocker in the tournament with 2.6 blocks per game,[11] the Under-16 national team was relegated under the Division B section after the tournament for over a year's time. He played with his nation's Under-18 national team for the 2010 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship. Unlike in the Under-16 Tournament he participated in back in 2009, Len helped the Under-18 team stay in the Division A tournaments for at least another year. Throughout the tournament, Len ended up being the biggest stand-out player for the nation throughout the entire tournament. In fact, his performance throughout the tournament led to the University of Maryland, along with a few other universities, gaining enough interest in him to get him on their team.[citation needed]

References[edit]

External links[edit]