The Washington Post

Maryland basketball signs a center

Maryland has signed a badly needed big man for the upcoming season, 7-1 center Olexiy Len from Ukraine, who’s expected to fill the gaping hole left by the early departure of 6-10 sophomore center Jordan Williams.

Len, whose first name is pronounced “oh-LEX-ee,” will go by “Alex.”

His signing, which was announced Monday, brings to nine the number of scholarship players on the roster as first-year coach Mike Turgeon sets about rebuilding a 19-14 Terrapin squad that failed to qualify for the NCAA or NIT postseason tournaments.

“We are very excited about the addition of Alex to our basketball team,” Turgeon said in a statement. “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.”

As a member of the Ukrainian national team, Len averaged 16 points, 11.4 rebounds and 4.3 blocks in nine games during the U-18 European Championships in 2010, according to Maryland officials.

Williams, the Terps’ center last year, led the team with 16.9 points and 11.8 rebounds per game.

Len joins a thin and untested front court that consists of 6-8 junior forward James Padgett; 6-10, 200-pound center Berend Weijs; 6-5 sophomore forward Mychal Parker and redshirt freshman Ashton Pankey, a 6-9 forward.

In comments released by the university, Len said: “It has been a dream of mine to come to the United States to play college basketball. 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.”

Liz Clarke currently covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. She has also covered seven Olympic Games, two World Cups and written extensively about college sports, tennis and auto racing.


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