Alex Len

Mark Turgeon on Alex Len: ‘I think he can be the No. 1 pick’

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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.

WATCH LIVE: James Madison battles UNC-Wilmington on NBCSN

James Madison guard Shakir Brown, left, drives past Hofstra forward Denton Koon (12) during the first half of an NCAA basketball game in Harrisonburg, Va., Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. (Daniel Lin/Daily News-Record via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
(Daniel Lin/Daily News-Record via AP)
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Two of the top teams in the CAA battle on Saturday afternoon as James Madison travels to UNC-Wilmington. You can catch this matchup live on NBCSN at 3 p.m. EST.

UNC-Wilmington (19-5, 11-2) is currently the class of the conference as they hold a two-game lead over James Madison, William & Mary and Hofstra. The Seahawks have won 10 consecutive games and they’re led by guard Chris Flemmings, who is averaging 16.6 points per game and 6.2 rebounds per game.

James Madison (19-7, 9-4) has won three consecutive games as they try to make up ground on UNC-Wilmington. Guard Ron Curry leads the Dukes in points (16.8 ppg) and assists (3.9 apg) as he’s having a very solid season.

These two teams played on Jan. 28 with UNC-Wilmington winning 78-73 on the road.

CLICK HERE to watch these games on NBC Sports Live Extra Saturday afternoon.

VIDEO: Winthrop’s Keon Johnson goes coast-to-coast for buzzer-beater

Winthrop's Keon Johnson (5) shoots a layup while defended by Coastal Carolina's Warren Gillis during the first half of the Big South Conference Championship college basketball game Sunday, March 8, 2015, in Conway, S.C. Coastal Carolina won 81-70. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
(AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
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Winthop earned a Big South road win at Radford on Saturday afternoon as junior guard Keon Johnson raced coast-to-coast and buried the game-winner at the buzzer.

The 5-foot-7 Johnson erupted for 32 points in the win and he’s been one of the most potent mid-major scorers in the country this season. The win moves Winthrop to 18-7 on the season and their 10-4 mark in the Big South ties them with UNC Asheville atop the conference standings.

(H/T: LiveonASN)