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Friday, April 18, 2014 4:04 AM

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Maryland standout declares for NBA draft


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Published on: Wednesday, April 17, 2013

By Brandy L. Simms

Maryland sophomore center Alex Len is leaving school early to enter the NBA draft.

Len’s impending departure had been talked about for weeks but became official Monday when the Ukraine native announced he would forgo his final two seasons of collegiate eligibility to turn pro.

“I’m very grateful for the two years I’ve spent at Maryland and for everyone that has supported me during my time here,” said Len. “It’s been an honor to play here, and I’ve learned so much. I want to thank Coach (Mark) Turgeon and the coaching staff for believing in me and helping me grow as a player and a person. I also want to thank my teammates who were always there for me. We shared some great memories together.”

Len’s departure comes on the heels of Pe’Shon Howard’s announcement that he, too, would not be returning to the Maryland basketball program after deciding to transfer to another school.

Howard, a California native, is leaving Maryland to be closer to his sick grandmother.

Meanwhile, Len averaged 11.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while leading the Atlantic Coast Conference with 78 blocks during the 2012-2013 campaign.

The 7-foot-1 center, who was named honorable mention All-ACC and was a member of the All-ACC Defensive team last season, is a projected NBA lottery pick.

“I’m very proud of Alex and am excited for what the future holds for him,” said Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon. “To see the progress he’s made on the court, in the classroom and socially has been a truly rewarding experience. Alex has worked incredibly hard since he got here and he has earned this opportunity.”

Len’s productivity showed dramatic improvements from his freshman to sophomore seasons. His scoring average doubled while his rebounding increased from 5.4 to 7.8 rebounds per game. He leaves College Park holding career averages of 9.7 points per game, 7.0 rebounds per game and 2.1 blocks per game in 60 games including 48 starts.

“I’ve grown a lot, both on the court and off the court over the past two years,” said Len, “and I am looking forward to the next chapter of my life.”

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