Behind the scenes for Alex Len’s rehabilitation, NBA preparation


(Doug Kapustin for The Washington Post)

Check out my story on Alex Len’s rehabilitation process as he prepares for the NBA draft on June 27. Len, agent Michael Lelchitski and director of basketball performance Kyle Tarp were gracious enough to let me and Post photographer Doug Kapustin tag along for Len’s workout last Thursday and, as usual, some deleted scenes emerged (we’ll also have a photo gallery up and running sometime Tuesday). Enjoy.

>> At one point, incoming Maryland freshman Damonte Dodd wandered into the auxiliary gym, watching Len from afar. Tarp said current Terps, especially Dez Wells, have begun taking cues from Len and using him as motivation. “He has an opportunity all the players don’t,” Tarp said. “They see the effort, intensity, detail. Success leaves clues.”

>> Len’s Peapod grocery receipts run about $250 per week. Last summer, when Len gained more than 30 pounds, he and Tarp got creative under a restricted budget. Rather than buying fresh vegetables and high-quality meat, Len would pound peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and take vitamin supplements, as allowed under NCAA regulations.

>> As Len was pounding a medicine ball against a padded wall, concentrating on proper form for catching post-entry passes, Tarp stood behind him holding something slightly resembling a black, padded loofah. “This is Shaq,” Tarp said, referring to Shaquille Cleare, Len’s nemesis during practice. Then Tarp proceeded to thwack Len on the shoulders.

>> Before Len learned English, during his freshman days when he needed Google Translate to complete take-out orders at Boston Market, he would sometimes start muttering to himself in Russian during workouts, the native language seeping out at times of frustration. “We’d get him to the point of no return,” Tarp said, “so he’d start speaking Russian.”

>> Some interesting quotes from Coach Mark Turgeon on Len’s post-Maryland process:

On Len sticking around in College Park: “Especially when he gets drafted really high, people are going to come after him. He’s got to lean on certain people. He’ll lean on his agent a lot, he’ll lean on some guys who he feels really comfortable with on the team, and hopefully he’ll lean on me, too. I’m so glad he’s here instead of New York, working out and not knowing anybody. Just to be around us a little longer has been a blessing.”

On Len’s injury: “The first I heard about his ankle hurting was at the ACC tournament. When we came back from the ACC tournament, we got it looked at. Now at first we thought it was a bone bruise and stress-reaction type thing. There was not a fracture. We thought he had a stress reaction or a bone bruise, so we weren’t practicing Alex.

“After the ACC tournament, the rest of our season went on for another three weeks, Alex maybe practiced one or two times. We just played him in the games. I think he was definitely hurt in the ACC tournament.

“It actually took a second opinion for us to find out that it was a fracture. Those things are really hard to find. I thought our doctors did a great job of one finding it for Alex instead of an NBA team finding it, right before the draft. I think my doctors and my administration did a great job of making sure.”

>> Tarp is utilizing a “cross-education” method for rehabbing Len. By strengthening Len’s right leg, the healthy one, his left leg will remain strong too, even though it remained immobilized.

>> From several weeks ago, here’s Alex Len using Maryland’s vision training system. Men’s soccer Coach Sasho Cirovski brought the technology into College Park, and Len now uses it to hone his peripheral vision.

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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Alex Prewitt · June 3, 2013