Suns pick C Alex Len at No. 5 over McLemore, Noel

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX (AP) -- The Phoenix Suns chose Ukrainian center Alex Len with the fifth overall pick in the NBA draft, passing on Nerlens Noel and Ben McLemore.

The 7-foot-1 Len, who just turned 20, played two seasons at Maryland. Last year he averaged 11.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Len came to Phoenix but did not work out because he is recovering from a stress fracture in his foot.

Because of a couple of surprise picks ahead of them, the Suns found that Noel, the big center from Kentucky, and McLemore, the sharpshooting guard from Kansas, were still available. But new general manager Ryan McDonough and new coach Jeff Hornacek went for Len.

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

Len is considered a strong rebounder and defensive player with a better offensive game but not nearly as good a shot blocker as Noel, who many projected to be the No. 1 pick overall.

In a matchup with Kentucky and Noel early last season, Len had 23 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots. Len 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 guidelines.

Phoenix, coming off the second-worst season in franchise history, has needs everywhere. If Len immediately moves in at center, the Suns could well try to trade Marcin Gortat.

McDonough, the assistant to general manager Danny Ainge in Boston, took over in Phoenix after Lance Blanks was fired. McDonough, in turn, brought in Hornacek, a highly popular player with Phoenix and Utah who was an assistant coach of the Jazz the past two seasons.

The two brought in 74 players, most for workouts although a few, Len included, were unable to participate due to injuries.

The Suns also had the last pick in the first round, the 30th pick overall, as well as the No. 57 overall choice in the second round.