With the fifth overall pick they selected a 20 year-old, 7-1 center from the University of Maryland, Alex Len. Originally from the Ukraine, Len played two seasons with the Terps averaging nine points, seven rebounds and two blocks last season as a sophomore.
“I am really excited to go to Phoenix,” Len said Thursday. “It’s a great city, great team. A lot of young players. Just can’t wait to get to work and help the team win. I think we are going to be good and I met a couple of the guys. I know Marcin Gortat and I can’t wait to get there and just help the team win.”
“When Anthony Bennett went first (to Cleveland), I think everyone in the room was excited to think that the guy that we had rated highest on our board may end up getting there,” Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek stated. “And that’s exactly what ended up happening with Alex…He’s athletic, he’s got skills, he’s 20 years-old, it’s a bright piece for the future.”
“He’s been a guy who I’ve always liked,” added Suns general manager Ryan McDonough. “At five I thought he’d be gone. I really did…As we sat down and talked about him and put our heads together, all of our scouts were very high on him. We just thought how often can you get a 7-1, skilled guy who’s a great person off the court, who’s long, who’s got a nice touch, who finished well around the basket, who’s got good body control and we feel he is just scratching the surface in his basketball development.”
Coming from Ukraine, the climate is going to be quite a change for Len coming to the desert.
“Totally opposite from where I am from,” Len joked. “I’m from the Ukraine. It gets really cold there. I like the sun, I like the weather and I like city too.”
The Suns traded up one spot from 30 to 29 with their second pick in the first round and selected 20 year-old guard from the University of Kentucky, Archie Goodwin.
The Little Rock, Arkansas native played one season in Lexington and led the SEC in free throw attempts and was named to the Freshman All-SEC team. His strengths are his ability to create his own shot and creating offense off the dribble which is an area the Suns could use a boost. But he is still young and will need time to develop.
The trade was not yet official of Goodwin moving from the Thunder to the Warriors to the Suns, so Suns general manager Ryan McDonough did not comment on him. But had this to say about the direction in drafting the two young players.
“We realize that Alex (Len) and the other player that will remain nameless (Archie Goodwin) are young but we also think they are extremely talented,” said McDough. “We like their potential a lot.”
Finally in the second round, the Suns drafted forward more of a veteran college player from Missouri/UConn, Alex Oriakhi. The 6-8, Boston native averaged 11 points and eight rebounds per game for the Tigers. It is his Boston roots that had McDonough so familiar with him.
“I’ve watched him a lot over the course of his career,” mentioned McDonough. “He’s actually a Boston guy so I’ve seen him play since high school. I watched him a lot at UConn. When I was with the Celtics that was a local team for us so I saw a lot of his games. And then I went and saw him this past year at Missouri…He’s got good size and strength, he’s a very good rebounder, he plays hard and he’s a good kid.”
The Suns will officially introduce their fifth overall pick, Alex Len in Phoenix on Friday at 2:30 in the afternoon.
The next big step is free agency where the Suns will address would expects to be many aspects of their roster going into the 2013-14 season. That period begins on Monday.