April 16, 2013
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - University of Maryland sophomore center Alex Len announced on Tuesday he is forgoing his final two years of collegiate eligibility to enter the NBA Draft.
Len and head coach Mark Turgeon held a press conference in Comcast Center on Tuesday afternoon to announce the decision.
Len averaged 11.9 points per game and 7.8 rebounds per game while leading the ACC with 78 blocks in 2012-13. The 7-foot-1 native of Antratsit, Ukraine, was named honorable mention All-ACC and was a member of the All-ACC Defensive team last season.
Len dramatically increased his productivity from his freshman to sophomore season, making improvements in nearly every statistical category. His scoring went from 6.0 points per game to 11.9, while his rebounding increased from 5.4 to 7.8 per game. For his career, Len holds averages of 9.7 points per game, 7.0 rebounds per game and 2.1 blocks per game. He played in 60 games with 48 starts, 37 of those coming in 2012-13.
The NBA Draft takes place on Thursday, June 27.
Below are the full quotes from Tuesday's press conference.
"I want to start off saying this: it has been two wonderful years here. I am thankful for everything. Thank you to the coaching staff, the administration and academic staff to help me succeed at the University of Maryland.
"I have decided to take the next step and enter my name into the NBA Draft. My family and I have been thinking about this for some time now. With Coach Turgeon we came to the decision, and we think this is going to be a great decision for me, and my career. I am very blessed and thankful to have had the opportunity to be a Terp. I want to thank the Maryland Basketball family for welcoming me with open arms and for helping me become the person I am today.
"I want to thank Coach Turgeon. When I got here he asked me what my goals were. I told him that I wanted to be an NBA player. I want to thank him and the entire coaching staff for putting me in the position to accomplish that goal. I also want to thank my teammates. They were always there for me on and off the court. We shared some great moments together and I will always have these memories for the rest of my life.
"I want to thank the best fans that any team has. They always came out to support us no matter the score or even the weather. They always stood up behind us 100 percent and I hope they will continue to stand behind me in the next phase of my basketball career. I will always be a Terp."
On how he came about this decision:
"After the season I talked to my family and met with Coach Turgeon to talk about it. We have been thinking about it and we came to the conclusion that the right time was now."
On where he has to improve:
"The last two years I came here I learned a lot and really improved. All you can do is work hard. I am excited for this next step. All I want to do is work hard and learn as much as I can."
On telling his teammates he was declaring and how they reacted:
"The guys were really excited for me and they told me it was the right decision. They were just excited."
On favorite NBA teams:
"I watch a lot of NBA, but I don't have any preferences. I have favorite players but I'm going to play for any team that chooses me. I want to go somewhere I can contribute and I can improve myself."
On if he considered coming back:
"During the season I didn't think about it at all. I was just focused on the season. After the season I made the decision together with my family and coach Turgeon and we just decided it was the best decision."
On if he's looking forward to the NBA game:
"I'm excited. It's going to be a huge step. The post in the NBA is a different game and I'm ready for that. I'm just ready to work hard."
Head Coach Mark Turgeon
"I want to thank everyone for coming out. I know this has been a lingering story. You can't keep secrets, especially good secrets very easily. It is an exciting day for all of us, our program, for Alex. It just seems like yesterday that he walked into our office; it was August of our first year here. This big seven-foot skinny kid walks in. He knows very little English, and less than two years later he is going to put his name in the draft and most likely be a lottery pick. I think top ten pick before it is all said and done.
"Quick little story, his mom came in when he committed and he gave me this little turtle for Maryland. She said I am giving Alex to you as a baby, when he leaves here I want him to be a man. He has grown up a lot. In two years I have never seen a kid learn a language, learn the game, the European game is a lot different than ours, and just the way he has progressed. I don't think I have ever been around a player who has progressed as much as Alex has as quickly as he has. The reason the NBA is so intrigued and I know he is going to be a great pro is that he is only 19. I can't imagine where he is going to be when he is 23."
On Alex's contributions to the team:
"I think we finished third or fourth in the country in field-goal percentage defense, and it was for one reason. It was this guy right here. The Iowa game, we would have lost by 20 if he wasn't out there altering shots and blocking shots. His shot-blocking late in the season -- really it was at the Virginia game. I was always talking about being a presence at the rim. `Protect the rim, Alex.' I'd hit him on his chest so he had to look down at me -- I didn't hit him hard -- but he'd look down at me and I'd just say protect the rim. He's an unbelievable shot blocker and that's what I asked him to do. He's special. I talked to a couple NBA guys yesterday that had really high picks and I told them don't mess up. 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. This kid's going to be special."
On the sense of pride he has:
"Alex and I teared up a little bit in our office when he said he was leaving because I was like, "Wow, it happened so quick." That's why I came to Maryland. To coach guys like Alex. He wasn't the first kid to commit to us, but he was the first player to commit to us that played for us - if that makes sense. For him to be a lottery pick a year later says a lot about him, says a lot about how lucky we were to get him and also our program and our staff. A guy who hasn't been mentioned is Kyle Tarp, the strength and conditioning coach. He did a great job. He put 30 pounds on this guy in one summer and so it's just really good for our program. Hopefully I'm here for a long time. I'm going to have an NBA wall and he's going to be the first one and hopefully this becomes an annual event for us where we have someone going to the NBA draft in the first round."