COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WUSA) - Throughout the season I've watched ACC team do the greatest magic of all time - make a 7-footer disappear. Of course, I'm talking about Terps center, Alex Len.
This is the second year in a row where we've come to expect more from the sophomore from the Ukraine. Last year, many us believed he was NBA ready and it turned out he wasn't even ACC ready.
And that's saying a lot.
But this season, we've seen Len 2.0 as he added more moves to his repertoire and he's become a fearless post player. That's led to Len doubling his scoring average from a year ago to six points per game to 12. He's also averaging eight rebounds per game, and that's up from only five a year ago. Plus, he's on pace to squash his freshman total for blocks in a season.
Len is clearly a better player from a year ago, but is he NBA ready? My answer is no. And he definitely is not a lottery pick.
When you're the tallest guy on the court every game, I expect more double-doubles and a point total that hovers closer to 16 points per game. Len hasn't had a 20 point performance since the season opener vs. Kentucky. He has only scored 16 points seven times this season. And his recent game log doesn't scream lottery pick:
W at Boston College: 16 points, 13 rebounds
L at Duke: 8 points, 10 rebounds
L at Florida State: 4 points, 5 rebounds
W at Wake Forest: 12 points, 9 rebounds
W at Virginia Tech: 10 points, 5 rebounds
In that same span, Len has shot the ball more than six times in two of those and game, Boston College (14) and Wake Forest (7). The sophomore has excelled this year as an athlete and as being more of a presence on the court, but he lacks the aggressiveness to take over a game. He doesn't demand the ball, and I think he will become that kind of player with one more year of tutelage under head coach Mark Turgeon.
If he's smart he comes back, has another great off-season, and shows scouts he is more than just a big body. With the guaranteed contract first round picks receive in the NBA, there really is no rush. The league is not going anywhere and he will always be considered a lottery pick.