Bruno Fernando will be in a Maryland men’s basketball uniform for at least another season, opting to withdraw his name from the NBA Draft after entering without an agent, the school announced Monday afternoon.
When the 6’10 Angolan entered, he seemed the more likely of himself and Kevin Huerter to remain in the draft, but a simply solid showing at the NBA Draft combine wasn’t enough for him to play himself into late first-round expectations. Now Fernando will return for another run after being named to the Big Ten’s All-freshman team, with 10.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and a team-high 1.3 blocks.
“I received a great deal of feedback over the past six weeks that has been beneficial in making this decision. After significant discussions with my family and Coach Turgeon, I have decided to return to Maryland for my sophomore year,” Fernando said in Maryland’s press release. “I can’t wait to get back on campus, see my teammates and play in front of the great fans at XFINITY Center this fall.”
With this year’s draft being top-heavy with elite big men, Fernando has the potential to be a lottery pick in next year’s crop. He didn’t do much at the combine to assuage fears that he hasn’t learned to play on the perimeter. He had a couple workouts and numerous interviews, but was trending more towards being a second-round selection had he stayed in this year.
Gifted with athleticism for days, Fernando spent the season blooming in front of the eyes of Terps fans. His energy endeared him to the Xfinity Center crowd, as he started playing smarter, learning how to avoid fouls and work his way out of double teams. He landed on Sportscenter a couple times, topping the list with a inbound lob against Rutgers. Fernando also displayed a burgeoning jump shot, reliable out to 15 feet and starting to stretch past the three-point line.
“I think Bruno learned a lot during this process, and it will only make him a better basketball player,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “We’re really excited to have his energy and passion in our locker room next year.”
He’ll now return to a team that’s also stocked with a five-recruit class, and will activate Schnider Herard at midseason. Fernando was in the building with Darryl Morsell to watch his future teammates at the Capital Classic and has been present on campus since he announced, both signs pointing toward his return.
Fernando returning is a big weight off Mark Turgeon’s shoulders, and with the announcement coming before the deadline, there’s less time to stress. The Terps still have one scholarship to work with this offseason, and are now just waiting on Huerter’s decision. If both return Maryland’s a preseason top-15 team, but even with just Fernando in tow it’s a fringe top-25 team.