In the world of the “information superhighway,” everyone with a keyboard, an internet connection and the ability to spell Wikipedia or YouTube, or at least get it within a few letters, can find information, trivial or otherwise, that they’re looking for in an instant. Everyone, with the touch of a button — or is that a screen now — can feel as if they’re an expert on any subject.

The problem is, in a world where everything is available in an instant, there is still no substitute for actual, real-world experience. Enter Ryan McDonough.

Although only beginning his first season as the man holding the reigns of an NBA basketball operations department, McDonough is no stranger to hard work and even harder scouting of the most obscure talent. For years he has scoured the globe gaining first-hand knowledge of players starting at a young age.

One of those people he saw while globetrotting was the newest member of the Phoenix Suns, Alex Len, long before his name was called by Commissioner Stern during Thursday night’s NBA Draft, or even before he put on a Maryland No. 25 jersey. As a matter of fact, he saw him only four years after Len began playing basketball.

“I was in Vilnius, Lithuania for the Under 18 European championships in the summer of 2010,” McDonough said. “The gym was about 117 degrees. There were 32 people there. I didn’t know Alex. He was a year young. He was 17-years old playing up with the 18-year-old group. The kid came out and was blocking shots above the rim and rebounding. He has improved a lot since then, but you could see the raw physical package. Obviously, there aren’t a lot of guys in the world who are 7-1 that can move like that and have that skill. I was intrigued by him then.”

From that moment on McDonough knew he may have found a true diamond in the rough. That feeling only continued to grow as Len packed up and moved stateside for college.

“He ended up at the University of Maryland,” McDonough told the media after the draft. “Since then his game and stock have skyrocketed. Obviously we’re factoring in big improvement going forward,too.”

For a kid whose first words of English were “I Love This Game,” mimicking the old NBA marketing campaign that he would see during game broadcasts at 3 a.m. in the Ukraine. Being in the NBA is a dream come true. A journey he now realizes started when he was just 17-years old when McDonough first saw him.

It’s all a testament to the hard work the Suns’ newest general manager has put in since his work with the Boston Celtics. Don’t take my word for it. Take the word of his former boss and former Sun, Danny Ainge.

“Ryan has earned the right to do things his way, just because he’s a hard worker,” Danny Ainge toldSBNation.com back in March of this year, prior to McDonough’s hiring in Phoenix. “He doesn’t take shortcuts. At the end of the day, his evaluations have been really good and I trust him. We all look at players differently and we all do it differently. Ryan’s been amazing. He’s been huge for the success of our franchise.

We live in a time where instant reaction and 140 character often supersede thought-out discussion and contemplation. (Some of us are even paid for it.) A world where watching three video clips on the internet and 45 minutes of a game make even the most casual observers experts. But, like they say, you can’t always believe what you see on the internet. Sometimes it is just better to see it for yourself.

About Greg Esposito

Hi, my name is Greg Esposito, my friends call me Espo and I’m a Phoenix Suns-aholic. I also happen to be the team's Social Media Specialist as well as one of the online content creators. You'll find my sarcastic musings here on Blog.Suns.com as the Suns Retorter.

  • fredrich herdt Jr

    grow up greg talk like a man not a teenager

  • Dirka Dirka

    Did the coaches that didn’t vote him 1st or 2nd team in his Conference watch clips on the Internet? Or maybe what they saw in person, they didn’t like.

  • Dylan Beavers

    People need to stop complaining about the Len pick. His skill set is similar to Olyjawans. His coach said that Alex len can go with the right hook shot or left hook shot. He is a lot more aggressive than Gortat which is an up grade. His coach also said the he will eventually be able to shoot the nba 3. People need to start showing a little faith in Mcdough who discovered has discovered so many good players in the draft. The trade in my opinion for Archie Goodwin was fantastic. His field goal percentage is low sure, but remember that we have hornaceck as our new coach. Hornaceck has helped players field goal percentage jump by the more than 10 percent. Goodwin has clutch in him, already at the age of 19. Don’t beleive me look him up on YouTube playing against louisville.

  • Elviro (Italy)

    Hello Greg,

    known by your name that you probably have Italian origins … well I’m a fan of Italian Suns … greetings from the beautiful country!

    What you say about McDonough and Len is shared: both must be tested before being judged!

    McDonough has recently entered the world of Suns …

    Len will begin his adventure in the little orange planet …

    Only time will tell if both were good choices!

    I made 2.30am to see the Draft here in Italy and I confess that I did it because I was hoping when choosing Oladipo: a true force of nature in my humble opinion … and perhaps I had seen well, although only a few videos on youtube, so much so that it was the second choice …

    The choice of Len was, perhaps, overly criticized on the grounds that they were still available Noel and McLemore, by all propabili referred to as first and second choice …

    However, Len was also indicated in recent days as a possible first draft choice of the latter!

    I believe, from what little I’ve seen, that Len has so much potential but we just have to wait and see what will be its growth!

    Then, as they say in Italy, we are all coaches … it is normal that the fan may have a different opinion based on what (little) he sees … but what is certain is that now it’s up to Len (and McDonough) to dissipate the skeptics!