Kevin Hueter and Bruno Fernando went to this week’s NBA scouting combine in Chicago trying to surprise the league’s coaches and front office personnel with some things they might not have shown consistently at Maryland.
For Huerter, it was to prove he’s a better athlete than he appeared during his first two seasons as a Terp. For Fernando, it was to prove he had more of a perimeter game than he displayed as a freshman last season.
So far, Huerter and Fernando have done just that.
As a result, their stock continues to improve — Huerter’s in particular.
Huerter, who came to College Park with the reputation as strictly a 3-point shooter, had the top shuttle run among the 40 players tested Thursday, was fourth in the three-quarter-court sprint, seventh in lane agility and finished 14th in maximum vertical leap with a more-than-respectable 38 inches elevation.
Not surprisingly, the 6-foot-7, 194-pound sophomore was among the top shooters, finishing first in his spot-up right-side shooting (a perfect 100 percent) and right corner NBA shooting (80 percent), as well as on-the-move 15-foot shooting at 87.1 perecent. He also tied for third in spot-up left-side shooting.
Perhaps one of the biggest surprises came from Fernando in terms of his perimeter shooting.
The 6-10, 240-pound Angolan, who didn’t even attempt a 3-pointer until the second half of the season and tried only three (making one) the entire season, was first among centers by hitting 80 percent of his top-of-the-key shots and 70 percent of his on-the-move 15-footers, as well as finishing tied for second in NBA right-corner shooting at 60 percent.
Fernando, who will go through the non-shooting tests Friday, was also measured to have one of the lowest body-fat percentages of any of the players, at 5.25 percent.
Both players had solid performances in the fullcourt scrimmages Thursday.
Huerter, who started in the first scrimmage, finished with nine points in a 73-64 loss on 3-for-9 shooting (2-for-7 on 3-pointers), two rebounds, two assists and one turnover.
Fernando started in the second scrimmage Thursday, finishing with eight points (3-for-8 shooting), four rebounds and a block.
Both their teams lost.
Huerter seemed to make a pretty strong first-day impression.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo, he was one of a handful of players who could wind up going from being thought of as a second-round pick to a first-round pick.
“Huerter looked like the most natural shooter at the combine, and between strong performances in drills, a positive 6’7.5 height measurement in shoes and a handful of slick passes during the scrimmages, it’s clear that his talent might have been undersold during the course of the season...He’s far more athletic than he looks and certainly helped his stock with his showing.”
Tweeted Jonathan Givony of ESPN, “Kevin Huerter appears to be helping himself so far. Looks automatic from NBA range with his feet set. Passing it well. Putting in a good effort defensively...Seems to have strong buzz among NBA folks.”
Huerter and Fernando, whose combine teams will face each other Friday, have until May 30 to announce whether return to Maryland for next season.
“Huerter and teammate Bruno Fernando are two of the most intriguing prospects who have yet to hire agents, and it’s a bit of a wonder the Terps didn’t make the tournament this year,” Woo wrote. “Another big day for Huerter will further help his first-round case.”
Former Terp Justin Jackson, who announced after the season that he was leaving school despite missing more than half his sophomore year with a torn labrum in his right shoulder, is also in Chicago but has not yet been medically cleared to play in the scrimmages or participate in much of the testing.
The combine will end Sunday.