Alex Len is one of the more intriguing players in this year’s draft class.
At 7-foot-1, Len has the size and the length to be an NBA center. Add in his fairly well-developed post game, his age (19), and his mobility, and there’s a lot to like about his future.
Perhaps the most promising part about Len as a prospect is that he’s only scratched the surface of his potential, but he’s shown the work ethic to reach that potential in other aspects of his life. Think about it like this: Len came over from the Ukraine to attend Maryland in late August of 2011. He didn’t speak any English. He’d never been to the States before. And here we are in April of 2013, and Len is fluent in English and has made major strides in learning how to play the American style of basketball.
“He’s grown up a lot,” Mark Turgeon said at a press conference on Tuesday. “In two years I’ve never seen a kid learn the language, learn the game – the European game is a lot different than ours. Just the way he progressed, I don’t know if I’ve been around a player who has improved as much as Alex.”
Len’s biggest issues in his two seasons in College Park were consistency, aggressiveness and confidence. He’s had some big games, but he also tends to disappear at times. Part of that was the result of playing on a Maryland team that lacked a true point guard. Part of it was that Len didn’t have the strength or the will to demand the ball in the post.
But we’ve all seen what he is capable of doing when he puts it all together.
“I think he can be the No. 1 pick. They’re talking about the other guy being No. 1, and you guys saw the same game I saw when we played them earlier in the year,” Turgeon said, referring to the 23 points, 12 boards and four blocks that Len had against Nerlens Noel back in November. “This kid’s going to be special.”
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UNC-Asheville has gotten into the trick shot game.
The basketball program’s official Twitter account posted this video of guard Kevin Vannatta nailing a shot from the balcony of Kimmel Arena.
Nice shot, huh?
Vannatta, a junior from Upper Arlington, Ohio, started all 34 games for the Bulldogs last year, averaging 11.5 points and 4.2 rebounds per game while shooting 50.6 percent from the field and 37.8 percent from 3-point range. It looks, though , like he might be working on extending his range.
Northwestern has found a temporary home while its arena undergoes a nine-figure renovation.
The Wildcats will play the 2017-18 season at Allstate Arena, about 15 miles west of Evanston, Ill. in Rosemont, the school announced Tuesday.
“We are excited to partner with Allstate Arena to host Northwestern men’s basketball games during the 2017-18 season while Welsh-Ryan Arena is undergoing its renovation,” Northwestern vice president for athletics and recreation Jim Phillips said in a statement. “The venue has a rich college basketball tradition in the Chicagoland area. I know that our fans will enjoy cheering on our team at Allstate Arena during what will be an exciting season.”
Allstate Arena previously had been home to DePaul, which is moving into its own new building this year. Capacity is around 18,000 for basketball.
Northwestern had its best season under coach Chris Collins last year, going 20-12 overall and 8-10 in the Big Ten.
The renovation to Welsh-Ryan Arena will bring the building – which opened in 1952 and last renovated in 1983 – into the 21st century by replacing wood bleachers, widening concourses, adding concessions, improving arena technology and adding new locker rooms at the cost of at least $110 million.
Construction is slated to begin in spring of 2017 and be completed in the fall of 2018.
George Washington announced on Tuesday that Maurice Joseph has been named interim head coach for the 2016-17 season.
“I am eager and well prepared to begin this journey with the 13 student-athletes in our locker room and the tight-knit group of coaches that I will rely upon heavily,” said Joseph. “It is a distinct honor to have the opportunity to be a mentor to our team in this new role. I have the utmost confidence that I will validate the trust that Provost Maltzman and Patrick Nero have placed in me, and that we will deliver a product that makes our students, alumni and fans across the globe proud of GW Basketball and the university.”
Joseph has been a part of the GW coaching staff for the last five years, a full-time assistant for the last three.
He takes over for Mike Lonergan, who coached Joseph for three years at Vermont. Lonergan was fired two weeks ago stemming from an investigation into allegations of abuse.
Lonergan’s other two assistants, Hajj Turner and Carmen Marciariello, both were interviewed for the position as well, according to sources. Turner had been Lonergan’s associate head coach for the past five years, since Lonergan took over at GW.
“In his five years at GW, Maurice has shown himself to be selflessly dedicated to the success of our student-athletes and fully committed to our department and university,” said Nero, GW’s athletic director. “His leadership ability and basketball acumen will bring focus and stability to the talented team we have this year. Our team, basketball staff and athletic department are looking forward to working together for a successful season.”
We are now less than six weeks away from the start of the college basketball season, which means that it is time for us to officially get our picks on the record.
Here, our four writers pick who we think will win each league, the national title and the major awards:
We figured that it wasn’t enough just to simply list out who was on our All-America teams and who was our National Player of the Year, not when the decision is so wide open. Not when there are so many worthwhile candidates.
So while you can go and see the NBCSports.com Preseason All-American team here and you can read our feature story on Duke’s Grayson Allen, the NBCSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year, here, you can also listen along as we try to hash out just who we wanted slotted in which spot.
Because we recorded it all on a podcast.
As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Audioboom or anywhere else that podcasts are given away for free.
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MORE: 2016-17 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule