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What Len learns not lost in translation
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On August 6, 2013 @ 1:49 pm In Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Paul Coro, USA TODAY Sports
NBA first-round draft picks usually could not have realized their hoop dreams without their mothers.
They also often have a coach who stepped into their lives and put them on a path to stardom.
Phoenix Suns first-round draft pick Alex Len is no different in those regards. His mother, Juliya, watched web-streamed NBA games with him in Antratsit, Ukraine, and allowed him to move away at 13 to pursue basketball at a different school. He never would have found basketball if his grade school’s basketball coach had not taken the rapidly growing gymnast to a court and told him it was where he belonged.
They enabled him to wind up at the University of Maryland on a basketball scholarship two years ago, and Terrapins coaches and players helped him progress, but he might not have become the Suns’ No. 5 pick in June if it was not for his girlfriend.
Len arrived in College Park, Md., not knowing the language or culture of America, let alone an American. Essence Townsend changed all that, forming the Twin Towers of a different sort when the 6-foot-7 center from the women’s team and New Jersey met the 7-1 center from the men’s team and Ukraine.
It began innocently enough at an ice cream social for basketball players to start the 2011-12 school year. Townsend, a junior then, was just being social when she introduced herself to Len, yelling as people often do so that a foreigner can understand English.
A teammate told her, “That’s going to be your future man,” and she got mad.
Len friended her on Facebook. They high-fived in hallways. They rebounded for each other.
“One day, I guess he finally got the courage to ask me to come hang out,” she said.
That was 18 months and a few thousand English words ago. Len … [For more on What Phoenix Suns center learns not lost in translation, click here.]
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