Alex Len's agent said Thursday in an interview with The Baltimore Sun that the stress fracture and subsequent surgery that will sideline the former Maryland center for several months could impact where Len gets drafted next month, but added that many NBA scouts believe the 7-foot-1 player has "the biggest upside" of any of the big men available.
Michael Lelchitski said Len's inability to showcase his skills in private workouts likely prevented the 19-year-old from Ukraine from moving up in the top 10, possibly into the No. 1 spot that many believe will go to Kentucky center Nerlens Noel or Kansas forward Ben McLemore. Len is projected by most recruiting analysts to be a lottery pick, taken anywhere from No. 5 to No. 12 according to many mock drafts.
"Undoubtedly [the injury] affects him in some ways, I really think he just misses an opportunity to really skyrocket up the board," Lelchitski said. "Everyone -- Alex, coach [Mark] Turgeon -- everyone who has seen him understood that he would have been phenomenal in that setting [of the workouts], 1 on nothing, even 1 on 1, he would have shone a lot more than you got to see this year.
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"When you have a kid with his size, athleticism, his hands, he's got all the fundamentals there to be an All-Star, it's just about developing it. You would have got to see that. That's unfortunate, that really is unfortunate, but at the same time, people have gotten to see enough of him to date. The NBA has the best scouts in the world and they have seen him since he was 16, 17 years old."
Lelchitski, whose father, Boris, was a women's basketball coach in their native Russia before founding Sports International Group more than a decade ago, said last week that Len would be out "four to six months" after undergoing surgery to stabilize his left ankle. Lelchitski said Thursday that the timetable is for how long it will take Len to start playing again, and that he should be able to start fitness and weight training a lot sooner.
"He should be able to get on the court to do some light stuff fairly quickly," Lelchitski said.
Len is expected to attend the NBA pre-draft combine in Chicago later this month, Lelchitski said. Len was likely not going to play in games at the camp in Chicago even if he was healthy. Aside from his interviews and getting measured, Len's injury will certainly make him the focus of medical staffs for a number of NBA teams interested in drafting him.
Lelchitski said Len has handled the news of his injury very well.
"Once he felt comfortable with all the facts, he said, 'This is the best thing for me, I'm worried about what I can be down the line. If you're worried about draft poisition right now, you're being short-sighted,' " said Lelchitski, a former Division III football player and high school basketball coach who is only 28. "For a 19-year-old kid to act that way is very surprising, it shows his character."
Lelchitski said Len has no preference which team takes him.
"The most important thing is to get with an organization that wants to develop that potential, to have him achieve that potential," Lelchitski said. "It's not about which number he goes. Do I think he could have gone No. 1? Absolutely, if the right team wins the lottery and he's working out and looking great. Even in that situation, we would have been very careful to see which team is picking No. 1 and if that's someone we want to work out for. It's about fit. That's the most important thing. Somewhere we he can step in. Can he contribute next year? I think so."
I'll have more from my interview with Lelchitski in Friday's Sun.