Bruno Fernando of the Maryland Terrapins shoots a free throw against the LSU Tigers during the second half of the game in the second round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Vystar Memorial Arena on March 23, 2019 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Bruno Fernando is on Hawks’ radar ahead of NBA draft

You hear Bruno Fernando before you see him.

Walk into a Hawks pre-NBA draft workout Monday and the Maryland big man is not easy to miss.

He praises himself on a made 3-pointer: “Money ball.”

He chastises himself after a miss: “Get in there ball. Stop playing with me.”

He offers encouraging words to workout drill partner Arkansas’ Daniel Gafford.

He applauds other workout participants working at different stations.

“I’ve always been that way, a loud, energetic guy,” Fernando said after his workout. “I always try to be positive around other guys and bring enthusiasm. That’s something I got from my family. Everybody is loud and energetic. My household is like that. My dad is loud. My mom is loud. Everybody is like that. It never got out of me.”

Fernando, 6-feet-10, 240 pounds, is on his second go-around with the Hawks. He declared for the draft last year after his freshman season. He worked out for the Hawks but decided to return to school for another year to get pro ready.

In 34 games last season, including 33 starts, Fernando averaged 13.6 points, 10.6 rebounds (second in the Big 10), 2.0 assists and 1.9 blocks (fourth in the Big 10) in 30.0 minutes. He shot a conference-best .607 field goal percentage. He was named First-Team All-Big 10 and First-Team All Defense.

He has no intention of returning to Maryland this time. He declared himself “all in.”

“I think I can bring a lot of things to an NBA team,” Fernando said. “One of the main things is my character and my personality. My love of the game and compassion. My energy. My enthusiasm. My positive energy right away. I think on the basketball court there is a lot that translates. I think I work hard on my game every single day to make sure I’m the best player I can possibly be. I feel like those things really translate to the next level right way. My ability to rebound, rim run, block shots, defend multiple positions.”

Fernando was one of 18 players the Hawks met with at the NBA Scouting Combine last month in Chicago. He received extra attention on Monday. He was the lone prospect that Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce called into his office for an extended discussion and film session.

The Hawks have two first-round selections in the June 20 draft at Nos. 8 and 10 overall. While Fernando is considered a first-round pick by some, he may well be available to the Hawks with one of their three second-round selections at Nos. 35, 41 or 44 overall.

Fernando already has a connection to the Hawks. It was he whom Hawks general manager was scouting when he noticed Maryland teammate Kevin Huerter. The Hawks selected Huerter with the 19th pick last year and the shooting guard cracked the starting lineup and was named to the NBA’s All-Rookie Second Team. Fernando says he kept in contact with Huerter last season and kept up to date on his rookie season, life in the NBA and the Hawks’ system. On his way out, Fernando was again his boisterous self as he uttered a friendly jab at his former teammate as Hawks roster players were preparing for a workout.

Fernando aims to stick around this time.

“I just felt like there were a lot more things for me to keep working on and improve in college,” he said of his decision to return to school. “Going back another year wouldn’t hurt me. It would actually help me, which it did.”

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