Alex Len - The Cronkite School

Several students from ASU's Cronckite School visited Suns practice recently to hone their skills. The following is one of the articles produced by the students.

Suns rookie center Alex Len doesn’t care that it’s the preseason.

He scored on his favorite player.

“I was excited to go against Tim Duncan,” Len said. “I scored on him, too, so I came back on defense and was clapping. It was a great moment.” Len, the fifth overall pick out of the University of Maryland, hasn’t had many great moments in his first four months in the NBA.

Len, 20, had his second ankle surgery in a little over two months in mid-July and is just now returning to the form that attracted the Suns to draft him.

It hasn’t been an easy road for Len, though.

He wasn’t cleared until about a week before the start of training camp, coach Jeff Hornacek said.

The seven-foot-two Ukranian said training camp, held in Flagstaff this year, was a key to his recovery.

“My first practice after my surgery was at training camp and it was hard as hell because of the elevation, but it definitely helped me get my wind back,” Len said.

Len has been helped off the court by another one of his favorites: his mother, Julia, who he says cooks and cleans for him.

“It’s nice having someone close to you to talk to anytime you want,” Len said. “I don’t have to worry about a lot of off-the-court stuff, so I can just focus on basketball.”

With his focus on the court purely basketball, Len has continued to show signs of his potential.

In his first preseason game against Maccabi Bazan Haifa, he scored seven points and added six rebounds in 16 minutes.

Still, Len admitted the comeback isn’t complete yet.

“It was good to get out there and play, but I played a lot of minutes and my ankle was a little sore after,” Len said. Hornacek likes the direction Len is moving towards with the regular season quickly approaching.

“I think he’s really battled through it and his condition will get better as the year goes on,” Hornacek said.

As for the play against Duncan, Hornacek doesn’t mind that either.

“We’re happy with the way he played against Tim Duncan the other night, who’s one of the best in the league,” Hornacek said. “He battled him, so we can’t ask for much more.”