The Philadelphia 76ers selected Maryland basketball forward Bruno Fernando 34th overall in the NBA Draft on Thursday before trading him to the Atlanta Hawks, per Shams Charania.
Fernando averaged 12.0 points and 8.7 rebounds per game across two seasons in College Park. The Angola native made strides in his sophomore year, having tested the draft waters following his rookie campaign before deciding to return.
He went on to post 13.6 points and 10.6 rebounds per game in 2018-19 while recording 22 double-doubles and shooting .607 percent — second best in the Big Ten — to help lead the Terps to the NCAA tournament second round. He announced May 1 he’d remain in the draft this time around, forgoing his final two years of eligibility with Maryland.
“I’m thrilled for Bruno that his dreams of being drafted into the NBA have become a reality,” coach Mark Turgeon said in a statement. “The Hawks are getting one of the hardest working players I have ever had the pleasure of coaching, and Bruno has an incredible opportunity in front of him. This is a special night for Bruno and his family, especially being the first Angolan to be drafted in the NBA’s history. I can’t wait to see what he achieves.”
Fernando joins an Atlanta lineup already featuring Kevin Huerter and Alex Len, two former Maryland players.
After not having a player drafted in 2017, the Terps have now had someone selected in each of the past two drafts. Justin Jackson was selected with the 43rd overall pick by the Denver Nuggets before a trade to the Orlando Magic last year. And Huerter went under-the-radar into the 2018 NBA Combine before leaving with plenty of suitors, prompting the Hawks to take him in the first round.
— Kevin Huerter (@KevinHuerter) June 21, 2019
Meanwhile, Fernando was a better-known prospect at the combine and impressed in drills, even though he sat out of scrimmages. At the combine, the 6-foot-10 forward said he had met with the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks, Sacramento Kings and the Hawks.
But Fernando slipped into the second round Thursday despite various mock drafts listing him near the end of the first. There were some questions about Fernando’s range from outside the paint — he shot 3-for-10 from 3-pointers in 2018-19 — even as he made a habit of thunderous dunks and showed improvement against double-team defenses.
In the end, Fernando will get his chance at the next level with Atlanta.
This post has been updated.