Alex Len

Ankle surgery sidelines projected lottery pick Alex Len

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When he announced his decision to enter the 2013 NBA Draft, former Maryland center Alex Len was projected by many draft analysts to be a lottery selection.

In the aftermath of news that Len has undergone surgery to stabilize a partial stress fracture in his left ankle, the question now is whether or not his draft stock will take a hit.

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.”

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.