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Maryland basketball’s Bruno Fernando, Anthony Cowan Jr. declare for NBA Draft

Both will hire agents under new draft rules, leaving open the opportunity to return to College Park.

Maryland basketball Bruno Fernando and Anthony Cowan Jr. vs Indiana

Maryland basketball’s Bruno Fernando and Anthony Cowan Jr. plan to declare for the NBA Draft and hire agents, the program announced Monday afternoon.

Under new rules, hiring an agent does not forfeit a player’s remaining college eligibility, so both Terps can still decide to return to school. Fernando has long been expected to turn pro this offseason, while Cowan has received almost no buzz as an NBA prospect to this point.

Fernando established himself as one of the premier big men in the country this past season. He posted averages of 13.6 points, 10.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game, tossing up 22 double-doubles during the season. After earning a First Team All-Big Ten selection, Fernando carried his contributions into the NCAA Tournament. He recorded double-doubles against Belmont and LSU, and his 28 rebounds in the big dance are the most by a Terp since Chris Wilcox in 2002 (when he played six games).

Fernando is almost certainly a first-round draft pick, although where he fits in among this year’s draft class remains up in the air. He’s fallen everywhere between the top 10 and the late 20s in mock drafts.

“It has long been my dream to play basketball at its highest level in the NBA,” Fernando said in the program’s release. “With that being said, I am taking the pre-draft process extremely seriously. I want to ensure that I make an informed decision that will set the foundation for sustained success and prosperity throughout my playing career and beyond.”

Cowan led the Terps with 15.6 points and 4.4 assists per game in 2018-19, also chipping in 3.7 rebounds. However, his shooting numbers were slightly below his career averages and he battled inconsistency all season, including struggles in the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments. Cowan declaring might be a surprise to some, but he doesn’t have much to lose by having his game evaluated by professional scouts in the spring.

“My last three seasons at Maryland have been a true blessing and I have grown so much as a player and person,” Cowan said in the release. “As I enter my final year of eligibility, I feel it’s important to receive an evaluation of my game from professional teams to best prepare myself for life after college.”

Power forward Jalen Smith announced last week that he would return to school without testing the draft waters, and Maryland has placed highly in way-too-early rankings for 2019-20 even with most people assuming Fernando is leaving. He and Cowan had until this week to declare, and they can remain in the draft until the withdrawal deadline of May 29. The NBA combine runs from May 14-19—Cowan probably won’t get an invite, but the inaugural G-League Elite Camp is May 12-14—and the draft is June 20. Players who go undrafted have the option of returning to school.

Maryland waited until that late-May deadline each of the past three years, with Melo Trimble, Justin Jackson and Fernando withdrawing from the draft near the deadline and Kevin Huerter ultimately leaving last spring. Another anxious spring appears on the horizon.