The Maryland men's basketball team has added a much-needed post player to its 2011-12 roster.
Olexiy Len, a 7-foot-1, 225-pound center from Antratsit, Ukraine, will start classes in College Park this week, the university announced today. The news of Len's addition was first reported by InsideMdSports.com.
“We are very excited about the addition of Alex to our basketball team,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said in a news release. “To be able to add a player with his ability so late in the recruiting calendar is good for us. We’re fortunate that, prior to our arrival, Alex was being recruited to Maryland. For him to reach this point is a testament to his great family support and his character. I’m looking forward to working with Alex and helping him reach his potential as a player and a person.”
Len averaged 16 points, 11.4 rebounds, 4.3 blocks, 1.7 steals and 0.8 assists for Ukraine during the U18 European Championships. The highlight was a 20-point, eight-rebound performance against Israel. During the 2009 U16 European Championships, Len averaged 8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists.
“It has been a dream of mine to come to the United States to play college basketball,” Len said in a news release. “In Ukraine we do not get to watch much NCAA basketball, but the first time I saw Maryland play was a memorable one. I saw a video of Maryland playing Duke in Comcast Center in 2010 season. I could not believe the atmosphere - 18,000 people, excitement and fans running onto the floor after the victory. It was unbelievable. “Coach Turgeon brings a new start to Maryland. For me, this is a brand new beginning as well. So, we are in it together. Coach shared with me his vision for the team, and how he could see me fitting in to his system. It felt good, like the right place for me to be. I can see myself coming in and contributing right away and helping our team compete in a great league. I'm extremely excited to be a Terp.”
Len joins a Maryland frontcourt that previously had just three scholarship players in James Padgett, Ashton Pankey and Berend Weijs. It is unclear how many years of eligibility Len will have with the Terps.
Len's play during the 2010 U18 European Championship caught the attention of EuropeanProspects.com.
Athletically, Len is really off the charts for a European player. He can play above the rim and uses this on both ends of the court. He came up with several incredible dunks or catches high in the air that he finished with the alley-oop dunk out of nowhere. Defensively, he is a constant threat for anyone approaching the basket as he has excellent timing and feel for the big block shot. On the rebound situations, he grabs the ball really high with two hands and holds it high in order to finish it immediately on the offensive end. He is present on every rebound with his long arms and if he can not grab it, he can at least put the other players in trouble.
(Credit to Testudo Times for the videos.)