David Banks-US PRESSWIRE
Maryland sophomore Alex Len has caught the eye of NBA scouts early this season, with many ranking the Ukrainian big man in the top ten of next year's NBA draft after an emergence from a backup role last year.
Maryland big man Alex Len has gone from being a backup as a freshman to a top pro prospect as a sophomore, as the 7'1 center from Ukraine is considered by most draft scouts to be a likely top 10 pick if he chooses to enter the 2013 NBA Draft, writes Childs Walker of the Baltimore Sun.
Len added muscle and became more familiar with the American style of play over the summer. He showed his improvement right off the bat, scoring 23 points and grabbing 12 rebounds against a Kentucky team featuring fellow top NBA prospect Nerlens Noel. It was a loss for the Terrapins, but they've won every game since, in large part thanks to Len's team highs of 13.9 points and 8.8 rebounds. He's more than doubled his point production from last year in only five more minutes per game, and has shown improvement snagging rebounds and blocking shots as well. He's a big part of the reason that Maryland grabs a higher percentage of its own misses as offensive rebounds than all but two teams in the country.
The center long saw himself as a player with ball-handling skills and shooting touch, but what has NBA scouts excited are his size and strength. Right now, most NBA draft websites consider him a top 10 pick with some putting him as high as No. 3. But Len's made his name on the strength of only a few early season games this year after emerging from relative unknown status, so his ceiling could continue to rise if he keeps up his strong play.