PHOENIX — Potential.
That seems to be the one word that gets associated with Maryland center Alex Len over and over again.
That potential is now property of the Phoenix Suns.
Len, who was the highest-rated player on the team’s draft board, fell to number five where the Suns chose him over Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel and Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore.
Len, who visited Phoenix June 5, said he knew he was close to the top of the Suns’ player rankings.
“When I was there, they told me,” Len said via conference call from Brooklyn. “I’m really excited, I love the Suns so I’m excited to go there and I can’t wait to start to work.”
There was no hint of disappointment in Len’s voice despite the fact that many experts had him pegged as the number one player in the draft.
“I had no idea, I don’t really pay attention to that kind of stuff,” he said. “I have no control of who selects me, so I’m just trying to be proactive with my rehab and just work hard and get better.”
That rehab is the result of Len undergoing ankle surgery in May for a partial stress fracture — an injury that may have gone undiagnosed, or at least incorrectly diagnosed during his sophomore season at Maryland.
“In August, I’ll be able to do stuff on the court and the doctors tell me I’ll be cleared to play in October, so I’ll be fine to play in training camp.”
Len averaged 11.9 points and 7.8 rebounds for a Maryland team that went 25-13 last season. The numbers weren’t earth-shattering, which brings us back to that potential. Len believes his game is better-suited to the pro level.
“I think that the NBA has the best coaches, I can’t wait to start working with them,” the 20-year-old said. “And it’s also better spacing — I’m going to have more room to work on the block in the post.
“I’m also excited to play with Goran Dragic, he is a great player and has great vision on the floor and he likes to play at a high tempo so I think that fits my game well.”
Len came to Maryland from the Ukraine, where the annual average temperature is only 46 degrees. So how does the Suns’ newest player feel about coming to the Valley, where the temperatures will exceed 115 degrees when he arrives in town Friday?
“I like the sun, so I’m happy to go there.”
Hope you like it a lot, Alex.