Bruno Fernando will remain in this year’s NBA draft, ending his Maryland career after two seasons, he announced Wednesday.
“After further consideration, I have decided to place my entire focus on the NBA Draft as I pursue my dream of playing basketball at the highest level,” Fernando said in a statement released by the university. “I want to thank every member of the Maryland community, especially my teammates, Coach [Mark] Turgeon and the coaching staff, for making my time here special and everything my family and I could have hoped for. I will always consider Maryland a home away from home.”
Fernando, 20, was a consistent force last season as Maryland finished with a 23-11 record and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament. He recorded 22 double-doubles in his sophomore season, averaging 13.6 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. Fernando was an emotional leader for a young team, and he frequently electrified Xfinity Center crowds.
Fernando is projected to be a mid-to-late first-round pick in most mock drafts. The NBA draft will be held June 20.
“Bruno and I have gathered a lot of information and based on those conversations we are excited about his draft prospects,” Turgeon said in a statement. “I know this was a difficult decision for Bruno because of how much he loved being in College Park. He fully embraced the Maryland experience and loved the fans just as much as they loved him. I’m incredibly proud of the player and, more importantly, the man Bruno has become during his two years here at Maryland. His work ethic and drive to succeed are second to none. We wish him the very best as he pursues his dream at the next level.”
Fernando tested the NBA draft waters last spring and attended the NBA scouting combine, but he opted to return for his sophomore season based on the feedback he received. That decision proved to be beneficial for the 6-foot-10 forward from Angola. Turgeon repeatedly called Fernando one of the most improved players in the Big Ten.
Fernando’s leap between his freshman and sophomore seasons helped make Maryland a top 25 team for much of the year, and his draft stock surged. Fernando always seemed physically ready to play in the NBA, but he became far more consistent and developed as a passer this season.
Fernando was one of five finalists for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award, given to the best center in college basketball. He also earned first-team all-Big Ten and Big Ten all-defensive team honors.
Fernando is the only member of Maryland’s regular eight-man rotation in 2018-19 not expected to return for next season. Guard Anthony Cowan Jr. declared for the NBA draft as well, but he probably will return for his senior year.