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Bruno Fernando sits out scrimmages, impresses in drills at NBA combine

The Terps’ big man showcased his skills in Chicago over the weekend.

2019 NBA Draft Combine - Day 1 Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Maryland center Bruno Fernando attended the 2019 NBA Combine over the weekend with the hopes of improving his stock ahead of next month’s draft.

Fernando, who averaged 13.6 points, 10.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game in his sophomore season, elected to not play in any of the scrimmages but competed in all other drills and measurements, and interviewed with several teams.

“A million kids wish they were in my position,” Fernando told media at the event. “For me to be here is nothing but blessings.”

How he stacked up against the competition

Going into the combine, Fernando’s two biggest competitors at his position in the draft were Texas’ Jaxson Hayes and Oregon’s Bol Bol, who have been projected to go before him in most mock drafts.

Much of the hype around Hayes is because of his athleticism and potential. While Hayes, who is 6’11 and 218 pounds, did have an inch higher maximum vertical leap than Fernando, the Angolan big man had a longer standing vertical leap and bested him in all of the speed and agility drills.

Fernando led all centers with a 3.05-second shuttle run and 3.27-second three-quarter-court sprint, while ranking second among centers with an 11.26-second lane agility test. Hayes was listed as a forward at the combine, but regardless, his 5.26 shuttle run was much slower than Fernando, as was his 3.31 sprint time. Fernando also proved faster than Arkansas’ Daniel Gafford, who also is regarded as a center but competed as a forward at the event.

Bol, 7’2, did not compete in any drills, and it’s fair to his say that his stock went down after weighing in at just 208 pounds following a foot injury that ended his season short in December. Before the injury, he weighed 235 pounds and was still quite skinny.

But Fernando also saw another competitor emerge at the combine in Georgia’s Nicolas Claxton when it came to shooting drills, which Hayes also didn’t participate in. The Terp surprisingly fared worse in shooting drills than he did at last year’s combine, but he still led centers in on-the-move shooting (71 percent), corner left (3-for-5), corner right (3-for-5) and break right (3-for-5) spots. Claxton led centers in the break left spot, shooting 4-for-5 compared to Fernando’s 3-for-5, and the top key spot, where he shot 3-for-5 against Fernando’s 2-for-5.

Looking towards the draft

While it’s unclear how many teams Fernando met with at the combine, he told media on the first day of the event that he had meetings with the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento Kings, Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks, Portland Trail Blazers, Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks. Fernando said he had more visits scheduled at the combine, and the Miami Heat, who have the 13th pick in the draft, were also reported to have interviewed him.

The Washington Wizards posted a video of an interview with the Maryland star at the combine, meaning they could be considering him for their ninth pick in the draft, though Fernando hasn’t been projected by anyone to go that high. The Orlando Magic, who are slated for the 16th pick in the draft, have also expressed interest. The Charlotte Hornets, who will pick 12th, are expected to host Fernando for a workout at Spectrum Center as well.

Fernando is projected to go anywhere from the late lottery to the end of the first round, but regardless, he is just excited at the possibility of being the first Angolan player ever drafted.

“It would mean a lot,” Fernando said at the combine. “I would probably get into tears right away. You know, just start thinking about the moments ever since I picked up a basketball to now be here in this moment.”