There was no way to write that headline without coming off as a total homer and/or B/R quality writer, so I apologize, but, seriously, both of those things were said about him. I'm still a little skeptical given how under-the-radar he is - and it isn't like he didn't get the exposure given that he's played at major Euro events - but hey, better good things being said about him than nothing at all. But first: yes, the 6-11 or 7-2 Ukrainian Olexiy Len is officially a member of the Maryland Terrapins, with confirmation coming from the official site.
"We are very excited about the addition of Alex to our basketball team," said Turgeon. "To be able to add a player with his ability so late in the recruiting calendar is good for us. We're fortunate that, prior to our arrival, Alex was being recruited to Maryland. For him to reach this point is a testament to his great family support and his character. I'm looking forward to working with Alex and helping him reach his potential as a player and a person." ...
"The first time I saw Maryland play was a memorable one. I saw a video of Maryland playing Duke in Comcast Center in 2010 season. I could not believe the atmosphere - 18,000 people, excitement and fans running onto the floor after the victory. It was unbelievable.
"Coach Turgeon brings a new start to Maryland. For me, this is a brand new beginning as well. So, we are in it together. Coach shared with me his vision for the team, and how he could see me fitting in to his system. It felt good, like the right place for me to be. I can see myself coming in and contributing right away and helping our team compete in a great league. I'm extremely excited to be a Terp."
Definitely saying the right things, which is to be expected with a prepared press release, but the most interesting bit in there: "Alex was being recruited to Maryland prior to our arrival." That smells of Ehsan, which is what we've heard earlier. E$, helping us out even after he's moved on. Still got love for ya.
Anyway, there's still very little known about Len, but what's coming out now is really encouraging.
The closest thing there is in way of a scouting report comes from European Prospects, a site which has previously offered information on guys like Haukur Palsson and Berend Weijs in the past, too. They have an extensive write-up of him in their U18 Euro Championship wrap, and all of it worth a read. Excerpt:
One of the most interesting players in the whole tournament in my eyes was the Ukrainian Center Olexiy Len. The 2m10 [ed's note: about 6-10] tall player is currently really skinny, he reminds me a bit of a young Tibor Pleiss in terms of body structure, but what a presence and talent. Len, who only turned 17 in June was the player that put the most impressive stats on the board with 6 doubles-doubles and several crazy shot block parties (8 vs. Slovenia, 9 vs. Germany or 7 vs. Sweden). Additionally, next to his great length, Len is really athletic and can run the court like a forward. He can play really above the rim but he still needs to learn to get a better feeling for the game.
They went on to call his athleticism "off the charts" for a Euro prospect and mentioned that he had "several incredible dunks", which is encouraging. He's also lauded as a strong rebounder, which is important given Maryland's lack of size. They're not so hot on his shooting as some others have been, but still mention that it's strong and could allow him to become a 4 in the future.
Other than that, information on him is still limited. A certain unnamed coach has an opinion, but given how hyperbolic it is and how unnamed the coach remains, I'm not sure how much credence I'd give it. Via Zags:
One coach who requested anonymity called the 7-foot-1, 225-pound center from Antratsit, Ukraine a "lottery pick."
"Best recruit in America," the coach said. "Maryland got a lottery pick."
This might be true, or it might be some coach - heck, maybe his own coach - exaggerating. I'm leaning toward the second, but it should mean that, if nothing else, he isn't a stiff. So that's a positive.
We'd be remiss if we didn't mention the controversy over his height. IMS, in the original story, said he's grown to be 7-2. Maryland is saying 7-1. His FIBA profile said 2.1 meters, which is somewhere between 6-10 and 6-11. I doubt he's a legit 7-2, but he might be a legit 7-0, and really, at this level the difference is minimal.
For the record, Brian Snow at Scout says he's "looking good" to be able to play at the start of the upcoming season. Whether or not all the other hype is true, we can all agree that's an unarguably good thing.