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August 29, 2011

Maryland adds center Olexiy Len to roster

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.)

Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:39 PM | | Comments (51)
        

Comments

Thanks for the info Matt! Hopefully he's good enough to see some time on the court.

This staff is everywhere. According to euru hoops, this guy is no. 7 overall player in europe for his age and no. 2 big man. Huge get this late in the game.

Great to see some help coming in. The current 3 players in the front court would not last the season without the new addition.

I hope he can hit some of those 10-12 footers with someone in his face.

wow
A big find so late in the process...

The team is being built for next year with the 3 guards , shaq and a few more blue chippers this team will be able to compete nationally next year

This kid looks like he has a very nice skill set. 7 footer that can shoot? Solid pick up.

Kuddos to Coach Turgeon. I'm happy and not surprised. He's got a plan to return MD basketball to its once greatness. Praise The Lord!!!

I know that we are building for 2012 but I am getting excited for 2011! Lets go Maryland!

Good looking pickup,but interesting too note that both he and Shaquille Cleare and Nick Faust were either committed to coming here or very interested in doing so while Gary was still here.Am interested to see what the future holds for Mark Turgeon and staff,but anxious to see how his coaching style plays out on the floor.I think the future is bright,but I thought so before Gary left as well.Wish I had that same kind of confidence in Randy Edsall and the football program.I think for a plan "C" backup coach,in reality Turgeon may have been the best fit all along.Has anybody heard where are assistant coaches that were not retained have ended up?

He reminds me of....Matt Slaninka :)

Matt, Thanks for the info. Looks like a nice pick up. By the way, I'm wondering where you got the info that he is 7-1? According to eurohopes.com he is listed at 6-11. Thanks.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

CA Terps Fan: Maryland listed Len at 7-1 in its release. -- Matt

This is exciting for several reasons. First, Maryland needs a big man. Although it will take a year plus playing in in the ACC, Olexiy seems to have the potential to do great things at Maryland; and second, Mark Turgeon has the confidence and is willing to go anywhere to get great talent.

To have a recruit like this come through at this late hour is nothing less than miraculous. I congratulate Coach Turgeon. I sure hope Len's legit.

We can put in two 7 footers and dare people to come inside. If any of our gaurds can prove to be outside threats, we can be OK this year.

He looks like a young Dirk Nowitzki he has a high skill set and very athletic. Outstanding Job to MD Staff. He makes foul shots and can run the floor. I have a name for him already the big answer. With all the questions about us not having a center with a team fill with guards and forwards. Recruits show love to play with him. A shot blocker with the guards we have the running game is going to be there and we can overplay and send them to the Big Answer and he will throw it out of there can't wait for the season!!! GO TERPS!!!!!

Great get, but I'm a bit puzzled. Both videos show him working on almost nothing but his perimeter skills, but low post is what we need him to be. I hope to be able to see game video at some point. But I'm happier than I'd be without hearing this!

Yet another "student" athlete at Maryland *LMAO*

Matt, how did miss a scoop on a 7'1" kid already on campus?

This is HUGE. I thought we'd have to wait until 2012-13. With Stoglin, Pe'Shon, and Faust, we have a very strong back court; but up until now the outlook for the team has been pretty bleak. Len can't do it all himself, but if he is legit, he takes some of the pressure off guys like Weijs, Pankey, and Padgett. If those guys can combine to do the job at PF, and Moseley and Parker can do the job at 3, the Terps can make some noise in the ACC.

You can tell he's European. He uses the backboard.

About the video, LOL, even techno-rap can't make big-man drills look interesting.

I'm curious why he wouldn't have four years of NCAA eligibility? Are rules for players with international experience different? If he was playing U18 last year, it can't be an age thing, right?

--------------------------------------

Shas: Maryland's first release said Len had three years of eligibility, but they later corrected to say it's not certain how many years he'll have. I'm honestly not sure on the reasons he may have less than four years at UM. -- Matt

Matt,

Can you shed some light on why Len went so late? To me, that says no one else was really recruiting him. What holes does he have?

--------------------------------------------

PeteyPablo: According to Fran Fraschilla, the Terps first got involved with Len while Gary Williams was still the coach. Turgeon and company saw it through. It says his adviser was D.C.-based, so that surely gave Maryland an advantage over other schools.

http://twitter.com/#!/franfraschilla/status/108245885749702657

Here's what I see that I like:

He's willing to use the left hand in some of the low post drills. He has a nice release and appears to have both a fairly soft touch and decent range. Coach Wooden would love that he uses the backboard on that 8 footer. And 6'11" or 7'1" you can't teach that.

Awesome.. now, hopefully he will stay a little longer then the all of the other overseas players we have had over the years for only a year or two before a pro deal back home lured them away.

Either way though, we got him for this year, and that will be a huge help until Cleare arrives.

Burt from Essex has got it right. Before everyone starts blindly lauding Turgeon's efforts for landing this "find" so late in the recruiting period, again, he is a recruit that Maryland and--are you listening haters--Williams was already in on. This is not to take anything away from Turgeon or his staff, or even implicate that they have not accomplished anything through keeping Faust or the obtaining the commitments of Cleare and this lad. It should just show everyone (i.e., "Gary bashers") that a lot more goes on than we, as fans, ever hear or can even begin to appreciate within a program and its recruiting efforts.

Now, because Williams and the Terps were already recruiting him, I wonder why it took so long for him to close on this kid? For me, it begs the question as to whether Turgeon really believes in this kid or has compromised his prior public mandate that he wouldn't hand out scholarships to sub-standard players simply out of need? Obviously, without him, the Terps' front line for this season would be severely undermanned. However, with 5-6 available scholarships, throwing one down in this fashion, particularly with Weiss leaving after this year, should not compromise his "rebuilding" process.

Either way, I welcome Len to the Maryland family and wish him the very best. Thanks, Matt, as always, for your good efforts on this blog.

I'll forever be skeptical of anyone who comes aboard this late in the process but any meaningful post contribution will be huge as we got zippy at 4 & 5. Seriously, I can't recall ever being this depleted in the post

Wow, his shooting form and the way he uses the glass really reminds me of Tim Duncan. We could only be so lucky.

well i'll be ... it's great to be a terp these days. i was a gary fan ... he's gone, current guys closed the deal, they get the credit not gary; stop with the gary love already (and as i have said before i am a gary fan...love him, thank him, he left us in a bind). you gotta be able to close the deal and gary left alot hanging out there ... the new guys have closed the deal....they get the credit. i am now excited ... and he's european, he will be tought, no doubt. pls , not a matt salinka, too painful (ps that was a gary deal too). welcome to c park big guy, go get em

The problem, TerpnTexas, is just when GW started pulling in good recruits, he quit. So, he never proved that he could consistently bring in blue chippers....a real shame.

Hey Matt,
If you were a scout, what rating would you give Olexiy Len based on the information you have on him. Two, three, four stars?

----------------------------------------------

teddy: Man, that's a tough question because I am not even close to being a scout. I obviously haven't seen him play, save for those workout clips. So I'm basically going off the same information as you. But based on the EuropeanProspects.com article, and on the article below, I'm inclined to say 4-star. -- Matt

http://www.zagsblog.com/2011/08/29/maryland-adds-potential-lottery-pick-in-len/

we are so fortunate to have the history we have at college park ... i graduated in 1974 ... lefty, lenny, bodell etc

and we have the history of the 1966 NCAA championship game: Kentucky vs Texas Western (now UTEP) ... watch the movie, its great. its the first time an all-white team played an all-black team in the NCAA championship game and it was played on our court at our cole field house...psTexas Western wins

i get chills thinking about it .... and get chills thinking about what lies ahead.

onward terp nation - make sure the new players know what we've done for this game.

Pepper:

You missed on one of my points which was nothing more than to show that this "under that radar" player of whom NOBODY on this blog had ever heard before today was being recruited by Williams. The same Williams that was perpetually castigated for his recruiting efforts. It just illustrates how very little we probably really know about a program's recruiting activities.

The credit for "closing" on him, as you put it, certainly goes to Turgeon and his staff. But to give them, as at least one other poster suggested should be given, credit for "finding" him is both myopic and, more importantly, misplaced. The indisputable fact remains that Williams and his staff had initially identified and recruited him; whether Turgeon and his staff would have ever located him independently, at this point in time, is both irrelevant and something that we'll never know.

OrioleFan1:

I don't know for how long you've followed Maryland, but your view is way too short-sighted. Williams didn't just "start" pulling in good recruits. With the exception of the last few years, he regularly did so. He proved over a Hall of Fame career that he could and did consistently recruit talent--without it, he couldn't have maintained the level of success he did within the ACC and nationally. Toward the end, however, the number of his recruits that did not develop over their careers, as anticipated, admittedly increased. Whether that means that he and his staff overestimated or misjudged these players' talents is certainly subject to discussion.

If you look at Olexiy Len's Stats for the most important game in the under 18 uro champs his stats tell a lot about the young man if they loose they are relegated from div. one the next year. 24 points 20 rebounds 4 blocks 4steals 1 turn over 3 fouls a M V P if ever there its hard to be a great player on an average team and put it on the line in the last game. I think he will go OK as a Terp.

Terp'n Texas,Glad too see somebody got my point.I think it's a great pick up,and am already on record as saying I think the Terp's are very fortunate to have Mark Turgeon,but once again those criticizing Gary for leaving the Terp's in a bind,have no idea what really happened,even though a few in the know,have intimated that the relationship between him in Kevin Anderson was extremely strained,and rightfully so.Mark Turgeon was not Anderson's first,or second or third choice.But I believe it ended up being the right choice.Because of Gary Williams and what he did at Maryland,this is an elite coaching position in an elite conference.While looking clearly to the future,extremely thankful for a past filled with a National Championship,and many great players,and memorable games.Who can forget Cole Field Hose rocking,with temperatures feeling like a sauna?lol.Now it's time to start making some new memories.As always,Go Terps!!!!!!!

Im confused now. Im happy we got this kid, at the very worst he is a big body to block shots and grab a few rebounds. But I read that blog post that you posted above Matt, and can not grasp how this kid can be that good, that some anonymous coach calls him a lottery pick and the "best recruit in America".

If he is so good, how come that anonymous coach did not recruit him, how come he is just committing now, and how could so many other programs have missed out? Something smells about all this. I dont care if this kid was from Antarctica.. if he is half as good as advertised, then every program in the country would have heard of him and been recruiting him, and every European club would have been offering him big contracts.

t n tx - wonder who the "dc advisor" is? sure hope he/she is still around. if i were coach t, that person would be my new best friend.

To all those asking why he went so late, it coould be he was leaning Pro, so no one bothered. Some coaches are willing to take more chances on overseas players. Remeber Jarvis down at GW, he had a good pipeline. Also, so many coaches are reliant on their AAU links, they don't look overseas. We will see how it pans out. Good pickup.

The addition is a good thing but remember, "Sexy Lexi" is an inexperienced 1st year player who no matter how good he is, will need time to adjust to college ball and the ACC.

Those of you who see a little bit of Nowitski and Duncan - I hope youre right - but not expecting that level of contribution right away.

I'm as optimistic about Len being able to help make us a better team in 2011-12, but I just dont want everyone overestimating what this kid will be able to do right away.

And who gets credit? It seems that both Gary's staff and Turge's staff didnt do it all alone and that it was a combination of efforts. Thanks Gary for finding the kid; thanks Turge for getting him to commit. Everybody happy now? :)

You can tell he's European. He uses the backboard.

About the video, LOL, even techno-rap can't make big-man drills look interesting.

I'm curious why he wouldn't have four years of NCAA eligibility? Are rules for players with international experience different? If he was playing U18 last year, it can't be an age thing, right?

Stroglin, Howard, Mosley, Paggett, The Big Answer nice 5... The Harrison Twins and Britt would be a killer back court in college basketball can you say national championship. Nate Sr. I think it can happen they would play good together and have the Comcast Center rocking. Take visit together and sit down with coach and make it happen...

thanks matt—
question: do you know who on the old & current staff that may have headed his recruitment to maryland?

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

space: It might've been Ehsan on the old staff, but I'm not 100 percent sure. He was the guy involved with some other overseas players Maryland took a look at. I don't know who the point man was on the current staff. -- Matt

No place else in the country would this fella get the same major conference exposure and playing time. He'll get as many minutes as his foul trouble will allow. He sure looks fit enough. Terrific stroke.

Sure gonna miss HawK Palsson though. Mosley needs to seriously step up. The squad is thin all over but has potential.

Others have said it already, but I love the way he uses the glass! Not to go too old school, but they way he uses the glass reminds me of former Dunbar High and Terps center Larry Gibson back in the 70s, who was always one of my favorites back in the day.

I'm not going to get into a debate about GW. GW is not significant to the present Maryland program. He was a good coach. But...that's irrelevant now. We've got a great coach in Turgeon; a wonderful school; a wonderful basketball program with a coach who is demonstrating great energy in his recruiting. I like what I see so far.

About Lexi...I'm not a scout either; however, he didn't look like a four star to me. Good shot, but is his feet as quick as an ACC center needs to be? How good will he be at blocking out, even after a couple years in college? Maybe I'm missing something, but he looks like Weijs to me. I like Weijs, so that's not a problem to me.

"Former Maryland assistant Rob Ehsan attempted to bring him in a year ago, and was recruiting him to Virginia Tech this summer"

Looks like MD got him though

Bino lets keep the pipeline going from the Houston Defenders The twins are the best I have ever seen at 6'6 and guards wow. They are showtime material and play well above there years. 18,000 fans at the comcast center watching these two against Duke on a Sunday night televise game wow. Dalonte we need Britt jr. to be with this showtime bunch. Recruit the bigs this yr and all those guards wow. This yr we have some showtime guards already Howard, Stroglin and Akil Carr the Crimestopper he playes taller then his height and he fits in with the showtime of guards. They are my top 4 guards in the country for 2012. Now lets land some bigs that can run and finsh with these guys this yr Layman and MacGary and Jefferson love Walker too. We don't need to sign anymore guards this yr to show britt and harrison twins we are serious about them. Along with them the big should be Big Beejay. Lets make it happen. Go Terps!!!

Am I the only one who thinks something doesn't seem right here? I see no mention of this signing on any other recruiting sites. Despite glowing anonymous praise, many scouts seem to have never heard of Len. The only footage on the net that I can find of him is the workout footage accompanying this story. I've read one article that claimed he's played professionally, even if only breifly, putting his eligibility in question. Finally, his signing was late and quiet... kind of like when politicians release unflattering news to the media on a Friday evening, hoping it will go unnoticed and be forgotten by Monday morning. Either this guy is an inconsequential talent being falsely praised, or he's a legitimate talent that, , has been ignored by other programs. I hope I'm wrong, but my gut tells me to be very cautious about getting excited about this.

I know that we all so use to projects but this guy The Big Answer is legit. He is pro material. With the lockout he decided not like Jordan Williams to play college ball Gary told Jordan that the big fella was coming and he could play PF this year and they would have a chance to win. When this didn't panout Gary decided to retire all speculation. So we have the best center prospect since Joe Smith. And in my previous post I said the guards are 2012 they are 2013 but play better then the guards in 2012.

Not sure why GW defenders need to wade in on every recruit. FACT -> GW RETIRED, he was NOT deposed in palace coup led by Turgeon. GW got a lot of credit & blame over the years as will Turgeon -- so let's at least wait til he's started his run before undermining everything he's done! FACT -> GW may have started on Len or Cleary but closing the deal is what it's all about. Coaches makes initial contact with what - 40 or 50 recruits, push hard on 10 or 15 and net what 1 or 2?? If U must credit GW, do so but not at the expense of what Turge is doing. The GW era is over (by his choice), time for the Turge era -- and time for real Uof M fans to realize this!!

Don:

I'm sure glad that you've got all of the facts. Clearly, you are the embodiment of a "real" U of M fan. Frankly, while your general point is well-taken, I believe that your rant is misplaced.

Turgeon's ascension to the HC position, from what I've read, has been met with overwhelming excitement and anticipation. I share in that enthusiasm. I have seen nothing from any poster to ever suggest an undermining of Turgeon or his staff's recruiting efforts. In fact, one of my most recent posts clearly articulates that they should receive credit for "closing" on Cleare, et al. What I and others who have weighed in on these recent signings have simply done is to point out to those insistent on castigating Williams for his alleged recruiting shortcomings that Williams had either signed or was well on his way to signing Faust, Anderson, Cleare and Len. It is not this or any other poster's fault that, except for Allen, each of these players was recruited by Williams.

Over time, Turgeon's legacy will be defined, first and foremost, by wins which will be shaped, at least in part, by the recruits that he and his staff sign that Williams' neither recruited, nor signed,...nor, perhaps, ever had a chance to get. At present, Turgeon remains winless as Maryland's coach. So, while we should be excited about this "turning of the page," let's save Turgeon's canonization or, alternatively, future skewering (as some will undoubtedly do) until there is sufficient reason to do either.

Terp'nTexas,
You are exactly right- Turgeon's legacy will be shaped by wins, which will be affected in large part by his recruiting. Obviously, the jury will be out on that for a few years. However, I think you can look at the decisions and actions Turgeon has already taken in just a few months to get an early read on where this program is going, including:
1) the staff he's put together- with much more experience and a much better recruiting profile than anything Williams ever had
2) the efforts he's made to rebuild relationships with coaches and other talent brokers- relationships which were (if at all existent) badly frayed during Gary's time in College Park
3) the emphasis he is putting on getting Maryland into the decision process for the nation's top high school players. How many times over the last few months have we heard top-100 players say that Maryland is recruiting them the hardest? We never heard that during Gary's days.

When outcomes are still pending you can judge process, and the early read on Turgeon is that he will be a FAR better recruiter than Williams ever was. Let's hope that is the final conclusion as well...

Andrew:

I'm with you in general, but I'll respectfully reserve on the issue of whether this group has a better recruiting profile than any of Williams' staffs. Comparing recruiting now to 10 years ago is like comparing apples to oranges. Unlike before, this whole process has become its own soap opera and its players (i.e., coaches and assistant coaches) have been elevated to matinee idol status. Years ago, most people could not identify its own school's assistants, much less those from another school.

In either era, however, continuity in a staff is critical. Williams' recruiting and staffs were solid through the NC. After same, as can happen, assistants become incredibly attractive as head coaches. Williams' post-NC staffs underwent more changes for that reason than any program can reasonably sustain. Does that excuse Williams from more directly/personally involving himself in the process than it appears that he was (again, we don't specifically know exactly how "hands on" or not his involvment in the process)? If he didn't, probably not.

Upon his departure, Williams had assembled a very capable and respected staff--Ranson, Driesell and Eshan--which was making significant headway in restoring some of the broken recruiting relationships (e.g., AAU coaches, et al.) that were so well documented. Eshan was a hot property who was immediately snatched up by the slime Greenberg at VT, as was Driesell who became a head coach, and Ranson was retained.

The foregoing is not meant to diminish any of Turgeon's staff's prior accomplishments or, more importantly, present efforts and/or accompishments or disagree with your points. It's just being offered to provide some perspective.

Hopefully, this staff will remain together long enough to make a recruiting impression. My personal feeling is that Hill, while possibly helping in building relationships with the local DC AAU programs and perhaps assisting in landing a recruit or two, may be here only long enough to re-establish his footprint in the area to secure a head coaching position somewhere in the east. I guess we'll just all have to wait and see.

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About Matt Bracken

Matt Bracken was a lightly recruited football and tennis prospect out of East Lansing (Mich.) High School in 2001, but spurned all (nonexistent) scholarship offers to attend the University of Michigan. Matt graduated from UM in 2005, earned a master's degree in new media journalism from Northwestern University in 2006, and spent the first 11 months of his career as an online producer / videographer / blogger at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. He has worked at The Baltimore Sun since July 2007, where he currently serves as the deputy sports editor for digital.

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