NBA Draft: Maryland's Alex Len Selected 5th Overall by the Phoenix Suns

Len was selected #5 overall - USA TODAY Sports

For the first time since 1999, a player from the University of Maryland was selected in the top 5 of the NBA draft, as Alex Len is selected 5th overall by the Phoenix Suns.

"With the pick 5th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Phoenix Suns select Alex Len, Antratsyt, Ukraine and the University of Maryland."

They were the words Alex Len had always hoped he’d hear, the ones his mother believed could become reality if she gave her son the opportunity to achieve his dream of playing in the NBA. In a matter of seconds, years of work, stress, sacrifices and struggles became a distant memory, as NBA Commissioner David Stern handed Len his Suns hat, marking the unofficial start of his lifelong dream to play in the NBA.

Len, once a little known, skinny 7’1" kid from a small Ukrainian mining town, became the highest drafted Maryland player since Steve Francis was selected by the Vancouver Grizzlies in 1999 and the first lottery pick since Chris Wilcox in 2002.

Len has come a long way since coming to the United States, when he arrived knowing no English, away from all of his family, with his college eligibility in question, eventually having to sit out his first 10 games at Maryland. What should we expect in the NBA? Let me turn it over to Pete for that

The potential is undoubtedly there, and with it, it's easy to understand why teams want him. He's tall, has great length, is a plus shooter, and his defensive awareness is growing steadily. His biggest problem remains on the offensive side of the ball - he has NO idea what to do with himself in the post - but that can be taught (and weight can be put on). The comparisons to Nowitzki and Gasol will likely be endless, but that's pretty lazy. Instead, in a perfect world, I see him closer to Amare Stoudemire, with less inside explosiveness. Len is incredibly athletic, and can dunk with the best of them, and has that great outside shot to back him up. All he needs to work on is his game in the post - once he's got that, the rest is golden.

Clearly Phoenix believes that Len can develop into a consistent center who will be a force inside, can make a face-up jump shot, rebound, and protect the rim.

Congrats, Alex.

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