Suns use No. 5 pick on center Alex Len

NEW YORK (AP) — The Phoenix Suns used the first pick in the NBA Draft on 7-foot-1 Ukrainian center Alex Len from Maryland, passing on Nerlens Noel and Ben McLemore.

Len, who just turned 20, played two seasons at Maryland. As a sophomore last year, he averaged 11.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Len visited Phoenix leading up to the draft but did not work out because he is recovering from a stress fracture in his foot.

In a matchup with Kentucky and Noel early last season, Len had 23

points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots, and he had 20 points in a loss

to North Carolina in the ACC tournament semifinals. He served a 10-game

suspension to start his freshman season due to NCAA amateurism


Phoenix, coming off the second-worst season in

franchise history, has needs everywhere. If Len immediately moves in at

center, the Suns may very well try to trade big man Marcin Gortat, considered a valuable asset.

Noel, Kansas shooting guard McLemore and Len  — all popular choices in pre-draft

speculation as candidates for the No. 1 pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers

— were available with the fifth pick on an unpredictable draft


Cleveland selected UNLV freshman Anthony Bennett,

a forward who has starred for Canada’s junior national teams and was

the Mountain West Conference player of the year. After that, Orlando took Victor Oladipo, Washington selected Otto Porter and Charlotte went with Cody Zeller, leaving a surprising set of choices for first-year Suns general manager Ryan McDonough and coach Jeff Hornacek.

The pick was the highest for the Suns since they chose Armon Gilliam second overall in 1987.


Suns ended the first round with a minor trade, moving up from No. 30 to No. 29 to take point guard Archie Goodwin of Kentucky.

The Phoenix front office sees the 6-foot-5 Goodwin as a point guard. He led Kentucky in scoring at 14.1 points per game but shot just 36 percent in his only season with the Wildcats.

A Parade and McDonald’s All-America at Sylvan Hills High School in Sherwood, Ark., Goodwin was second on the team in assists (2.7 per game) and steals (1.1) per game.

In the second round, the Suns selected power forward Alex Oriakhi of Missouri at No. 57 overall. The 6-foot-9 Oriakhi played his first three seasons for Connecticut and was part of the Huskies’ 2011 national championship team.

After transferring from UConn, Oriakhi averaged 11.2 points and 8.4 rebounds as a senior. He averaged 7.2 points and 6.8 rebounds in his three seasons at Connecticut.

Oriakhi was eligible to play at Missouri without sitting out a season because UConn had been banned from NCAA postseason play for the 2012-13 season.