This season wasn't a great one for Maryland men's basketball, as the team stumbled to a 19-13 record and missed both the NCAA tournament and the NIT. But Mark Turgeon's squad still had plenty of talent — and in a few months, some of that talent could go pro.
Sports Illustrated dropped its most recent NBA Draft Big Board on Tuesday, which ranked the top 80 college prospects for the coming NBA draft. You'll see not one, not two, but three (!) Terps in the rankings: Bruno Fernando (No. 25), Justin Jackson (No. 39) and Kevin Huerter (No. 50). Given that the NBA draft includes 60 selections, that would mean that all three of the Terps would get selected according to SI.
While Fernando wasn't Maryland's best player this year — he was third on the team in points per game (10.3) and second in rebounds per game (6.5) — he arguably has more raw potential than any other Terp. SI's Jeremy Woo lauded the 6-foot-10 freshman for his play-making abilities and his athleticism.
"[Bruno's] more skilled than [he] was able to show, with some range on his jumper and ability to handle the ball," Woo wrote. "There's not a huge sample size to work with here, but he's in good position to test the waters."
Jackson appeared in only 11 games this season because of a torn labrum, and he struggled when he did manage to play, shooting 36.6 percent from the field and 25 percent from deep. But that doesn't negate his dominant freshman campaign, when he ranked second in the Big Ten in three-point shooting. Jackson considered leaving last year, and Woo thinks the sophomore should cut his losses.
"Jackson missed most of the season with a torn labrum in his shooting shoulder, which puts him in an unenviable position and likely torpedoed his chances of going in the first round," Woo wrote. "He could be better off just entering the draft, rather than risking further struggles."
We’ve written about Huerter’s draft potential in the past; the short version is that he was a deadly shooter this year in pretty much every way. Woo is a fan of Huerter’s well-rounded game, and NBA teams probably feel the same way.
“[Huerter’s] decently athletic, and there’s room for players in his mold to make an NBA impact,” Woo wrote. “Improving defensively will help, but simply being a high-quality floor spacer with his frame and ball-moving skills is a good place to start.”
THIS MAN DOESN’T WANT THE GAME TO END pic.twitter.com/G4bgrxxGe7
— Terps Watch (@TerpsWatch) November 28, 2017
Each of these players has his warts — Fernando missed a lot of dunks this year and got into foul trouble pretty often; Jackson, as noted, is something of a mystery given his injury; and Huerter is a little undersized at 6-foot-7, and he has some turnover issues. But there aren’t many college players who have the full package. These three have enough strengths that they all have a shot at the NBA.
Fernando, Jackson and Huerter are underclassmen, so they’ll have until April 10 to decide whether they want to stay in school or go pro. Twice in the past — 1999 and 2002 — Maryland has had three players get drafted, and this trio could make this the third one.