Maryland sophomore Bruno Fernando and junior Anthony Cowan Jr. intend to declare for the NBA draft and hire agents, the team announced Monday.
Under new rules introduced this year, college players who sign with an agent during the evaluation process are still eligible to return to school if they remove their names before the draft. A player must end his relationship with his agent to remain eligible.
Fernando, expected to be a first-round pick, had a standout sophomore campaign for the Terrapins. After testing the NBA draft waters last spring, he opted to return for the 2018-19 season and recorded 22 double-doubles. The 6-foot-10 forward from Angola was Maryland’s second-leading scorer, averaging 13.6 points and 10.6 rebounds. Multiple times this season, Coach Mark Turgeon called Fernando one of the most improved players in the Big Ten.
“I do feel a lot of responsibility for Bruno because his mom and dad aren’t over here,” Turgeon said Monday night. “I told the agent after Bruno selected him, I said: ‘Let’s don’t screw this up. He’s got a really good thing going. Let’s make sure we make a great decision.’ I just think Bruno is so much more mature than he was last year at this time. I think I’ve got him surrounded by the right people.”
Fernando earned first-team all-Big Ten and all-defensive team honors this season. He was also one of five finalists for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award, given to the best center in college basketball.
“It has long been my dream to play basketball at its highest level in the NBA,” Fernando said in a statement. “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, a junior guard from Bowie, Md., led the Terps at 15.6 points per game. He has started every game in his college career and led the team in minutes, points and assists over the past two seasons. Beginning in late January, Cowan ran into a bit of an offensive slump, but he rallied to average 16.4 points over the last five games of the regular season.
“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 a statement. “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.”
Cowan will likely not draw much attention from NBA teams, but he could have other opportunities to play professionally.
“Anthony’s heard from me for three years,” Turgeon said. “He’s heard from his dad his whole life. Just to hear it from some NBA guys, what he needs to work on going into his senior year, I think is real important.”
Turgeon said he loves the new rule that allows players to explore options with agents and that both players have handled the process with maturity.
The NBA combine will be held in Chicago beginning May 14. Players have until May 29 to withdraw their names from the NBA draft, which will take place June 20. Last week, Maryland freshman Jalen Smith announced he will not go through the evaluation process and will return for his sophomore season.