"He's been proactive throughout his entire process," Lelchitski said. "Usually when you tell a kid he doesn't have to have surgery and it can heal on its own [he will not have surgery]. … But you're dealing with the timing of the draft. He was very mature about it.

"Once he felt comfortable with all the facts, he said pretty matter of factly, 'This is the best thing for me, I'm worried about what I can be down the line.' For a 19-year-old kid to act that way, it was great. It just shows his character."

Though most, including Turgeon, believed early last season that Len would leave school this spring, Lelchitski said Len told him it wasn't that clear cut.

"He's just a diligent kid. He wants to get all the facts," Lelchitski said. "It was clear to me that was his biggest goal in life, to get to the NBA. But I think he's the type of kid who wants to get all his facts straight, to get the right information and then make a call.

"His mother is the same way. She didn't even want to talk about it. Like wish it and it would not come true. Whenever you have someone who is highly regarded as Alex, it would almost be bad for you to tell him not to take an opportunity like this."

Despite the skeptics who believe that Len will be another Eastern European who can't cut it in the NBA — regardless of the two years he spent playing college basketball — Turgeon and Lelchitski say there is a correlation between Len's top performances and the competition he faced in those games.

Len had his best all-around game (23 points, 12 rebounds, four blocked shots) against Noel in the season opener, had two strong games against Mason Plumlee in wins over Duke, and despite feeling substantial pain in his foot, averaged 15.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 5.5 blocked shots in Maryland's final two NIT games, against Alabama and Iowa.

"I think he's at his best when he's got a challenge in front of him. That's just being part of being 18 or 19," Lelchitski said. "He responds to it, whether it's a Nerlens Noel or a Mason Plumlee. The injury is another obstacle in his way and he's already overcome so many of them."

How many No. 1 draft picks ever walked on a balance beam?

don.markus@baltsun.com