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.”
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.
Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.
“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”
While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.
Thursday afternoon marked the first time since Friday that Louisville head coach Rick Pitino commented on the controversy that has taken his program by storm. Speaking with Terry Meiners of 840 WHAS in Louisville, Pitino discussed the escort scandal, what could have possibly led former staffer Andre McGee down the path he’s alleged to have taken in Katina Powell’s book and his future at Louisville.
The interview began with Meiners asking Pitino if it changed his thinking as to whether or not he needed to resign, which (as one would expect) Pitino shot down. Also discussed was the statement released by school president Dr. James Ramsey, which expressed support for athletic director Tom Jurich but did not mention Pitino at all.
“Well I can’t answer that, Terry,” Pitino said when asked why he wasn’t mentioned in the statement. “Twenty-six years ago Kentucky brought me in to make the program compliant to NCAA rules. (Then-Kentucky president) Dr. (David) Roselle and (then Kentucky athletic director) C.M. Newton thought I was the guy to come in and change around the images, change around the culture and add a lot of discipline to the program. And I did that.
“And then I came here to the University of Louisville, and if someone was five seconds late or not early consequences would be paid from a disciplinary standpoint,” Pitino continued. “This is obviously not a person being late, this is not about a person (not) working hard. This is about things that are very disgusting, things that turn my stomach, things that keep me up without sleeping.
“But unfortunately, I had no knowledge of any of this and don’t believe in it. It’s sickening to me, the whole thing. But I’m thinking of my 13 players, I’m thinking of our program, and I’m sorry that Dr. Ramsey did not think enough to mention me but that’s something I cannot control.”
Below is audio of the full interview, which ran just over 17 minutes in length.