The surgery will sideline Len anywhere from four to six months, which obviously rules him out for on-court workouts in the weeks leading up to the June 27 draft in Brooklyn.
“This was a preventative measure to stabilize a partial stress fracture of the ankle,” said orthopedic surgeon Dr. Robert Anderson in a statement released by Len’s agent, Michael Lelchitski with Sports International Group.
“Although it is possible that this injury could have healed on its own, surgery was felt to be the safest and surest option to ensuring a long and successful NBA career for Alex. His prognosis is excellent, and I anticipate he’ll make a full return to basketball within the next few months.”
In 38 games Len averaged 11.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots per game this past season.
Len is the second big man in this year’s draft to have a significant health issue to deal with, with former Kentucky center Nerlens Noel still recovering from a torn ACL suffered in February.
Both are expected to be lottery picks, and given the perceived lack of elite talent a franchise can build around it wouldn’t come as a surprise if that remained the case come June. The focus for Len is to get to full strength by the time training camp rolls around in October.
“I decided that surgery was the best long term option for my career,” Len said in the statement. “I didn’t want to risk it not healing properly. I want to make sure I’m fully healthy and ready for training camp.”
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.