clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Maryland basketball has some intriguing options at power forward in 2017-18

Which big man will earn the spot for the Terps?

Xavier v Maryland Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Welcome back to our 2017-18 basketball preview. This week, we’re breaking down our roster preview by position. After starting with the point guards and shooting guards, and moving on the small forwards, it’s time to move firmly in the frontcourt with the power forwards.

Maryland basketball head coach Mark Turgeon told reporters Tuesday that his starting lineup is not yet set in stone, and power forward is likely one of the positions still up for grabs. The Terps have some intriguing options to deploy at the four, with three foreign-born big men to choose from.

Pencil Ivan Bender in as the starter, at least for Thursday’s exhibition. The junior has the experience advantage, and came on strong near the end of the season. Kevin Huerter spoke highly of Bender’s extended offensive game at Big Ten media day last month, and the job seems to be his to hold on to.

Right at his heels, though, is Bruno Fernando. The freshman brings a lot of hype with him, as the No. 8 ranked power forward and No. 86 overall in the 2017 class. He’s been battling an ankle injury, but is the most versatile option the Terps have when he’s fully healthy.

Then there’s Joshua Tomaic, who spent last season adjusting to the United States and the college game in a redshirt year. The Canary Islands native spent the summer sharpening his talents overseas and shouldn’t be overlooked in the power forward picture.

The incumbent: Ivan Bender, No. 13

Hometown: Capljina, Bosnia & Herzegovina
High School: Elektrotehnicka Skol
Year: Junior
Measurables: 6’9, 228
2016-17 stats: 4.8 ppg, 0.9 apg, 3.2 rpg, 66.7 FG%, n/a 3pt%, 0.4 spg, 0.2 bpg.

Bender comes in as the de facto leader of the power forward race, by way of seniority. He had an up-and-down season last year, but showed promise on the offensive end. He ended four games scoring in double-figures, including a 15-point outing against Minnesota in February to set his career-high. After not attempting a single three-pointer last season, Bender’s game has reportedly expanded past the arc over the summer.

“Ivan Bender is probably the smartest player I’ve been around,” Fernando told reporters Tuesday. “The stuff he does on the court, he just keeps surprising me at practice. He’s a great communicator, he definitely teaches you a lot about the game.”

Bender posted four points in the Terps closed scrimmage against Wake Forest and grabbed six rebounds, four defensive and two on the offensive end. Turgeon and his teammates have long sung Bender’s praises, but if he’ll need to be tough on the boards and prove his offensive game has progressed if he wants to start for the Terps.

The newcomer: Bruno Fernando, No. 23

Hometown: Luanda, Angola
High School: IMG Academy
Year: Freshman
Measurables: 6’10, 245

The freshman comes in with considerable hype, garnering the the only non-Jaren Jackson vote for Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Fernando figures to give the Terps a versatile, athletic forward unlike Turgeon’s had before.

At media day Tuesday, Turgeon described Fernando as a “6’10 Dez Wells,” and that’s not a comment to take lightly. Fernando played small forward his senior year at IMG Academy, so he has ample experience on the perimeter as well as in the post. He was nominated to the Capital Classic with fellow commit Darryl Morsell, but didn’t play as a precaution. Instead, he just casually hit three straight three-pointers at halftime. He’s been out for a couple weeks with a left ankle sprain, but that isn’t expected to linger into the season.

Turgeon proved last season he has no trouble starting freshmen, so don’t be surprised if Fernando starts before long. Because of his quickness and skill set, Fernando also has the ability to slide down and play as a large small forward, or slide up and play center. Expect him to get time at multiple positions in the frontcourt.

The wildcard: Joshua Tomaic, No. 33

Hometown: Lanzarote, Canary Islands
High School: Canarias Academy
Year: Redshirt freshman
Measurables: 6’9, 220

After not signing until June 2016, Tomaic redshirted last season. He then played for Spain in the FIBA U-19 World Cup this summer. He ended the tournament averaging 6.6 points and five rebounds, while getting solid burn. He only logged three minutes in the Terps’ scrimmage, but added four rebounds and two points on 1-of-3 shooting in that time.

Tomaic looks to have bulked up, but is still a wild card in this rotation. While he was effective on the boards in the scrimmage, he also had four fouls and four turnovers. (Note: he likely also played with the walk-ons, so stats may be skewed.) Tomaic has two skilled post operators in front of him, but if he can provide consistent effort off the bench, the Terps will be better for it.