Maryland Basketball Likely a Top-25 Team If Bruno Fernando Returns

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 01: Bruno Fernando
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 01: Bruno Fernando /

The budding Maryland basketball big man Bruno Fernando has a monumental decision to make on whether he’ll declare for the NBA draft 2018 or stay at the University of Maryland.

Maryland basketball forward Bruno Fernando has until April 22 to decide the future of his basketball career. Will he stay with the Maryland Terrapins men’s basketball team for his sophomore season or declare for the 2018 NBA draft?

Meanwhile, Maryland has already suffered two key losses to their 2018-19 roster in Justin Jackson and Dion Wiley.

Jackson’s decision to enter the NBA draft and forego his last two years at Maryland comes after missing the last 21 games on the Maryland basketball schedule due to a torn labrum.

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Unlike last offseason, Jackson has signed an agent meaning his Maryland basketball career is officially over.

Among the latest 2018 NBA mock drafts, Sports Illustrated has Jackson as a projected second-round pick going No. 40 overall to the Brooklyn Nets.

However, projected as a first-round draft pick at No. 25 is Fernando, who is coming off a stellar freshman season with the Terps. His averages of 10.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks last season showcased his NBA potential.

As the season progressed, so did Fernando as the big man scored a career-high 21 points against Iowa on Jan. 7 and later on Feb. 13 against Nebraska. Fernando also had a monstrous double-double performance against top-ranked Purdue with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

From the Purdue game on Jan. 31 to the end of the Terps season, Fernando averaged 12.6 points and 8.3 rebounds in nine games.

The mighty Fernando will only grow stronger and perhaps develop into an NBA lottery pick with another season in college. Fernando would stay with potentially a contending Maryland basketball team in 2019 with Jalen Smith, Eric Ayala and Aaron Wiggins rounding out a top-10 recruiting class of 2018.

Smith is a 6-foot-9 power forward from Mount St. Joseph High School who landed at No. 15 in the 2018 ESPN 100 rankings and participated in the 2018 McDonald’s All-American Game. The five-star recruit is the first Maryland player to be a McDonald’s All-American since Diamond Stone in 2015.

With Jackson out, Smith likely takes over one of the starting forward positions and would join Fernando in what would be a potent Terps frontcourt.

Assuming Fernando stays, Maryland would likely be a preseason top-25 team and have already appeared in several early top-25 lists:

  • Sporting News: No. 18
  • Sports Illustrated: No. 18
  • USA Today: No. 22
  • CBS Sports:

    No. 16

    Next: Maryland's Justin Jackson Declares for NBA Draft 2018

    If Fernando stays at Maryland for his sophomore season, the projected starting lineup is guards Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter, along with forwards Aaron Wiggins, Jalen Smith and Bruno Fernando.