In its latest poll of the top 100 NBA prospects, ESPN lists Maryland big men Jalen Smith and Bruno Fernando at Nos. 31 and No. 75, respectively.
It doesn’t mean that ESPN doesn’t think the 6-foot-10, 215-pound freshman from Baltimore and the 6-10, 245-pound sophomore from Angola wouldn’t be drafted if they decide to enter the 2019 draft.
Smith is the ninth power forward listed and Fernando is the 12th center. It should be noted that ESPN lists Smith as an inch shorter and nearly 20 pounds lighter than he is listed on the Maryland roster.
Several mock drafts have placed Smith in the first round should he decide to leave after his freshman year. Forbes has Smith going No. 22 overall to the Indiana Pacers, with CBS Sports predicting that Smith will go No. 23 to the Brooklyn Nets.
“After posting impressive numbers to start the season, Smith had trouble staying on the floor in Maryland’s two most recent contests due primarily to foul trouble. He was limited to just seven points in 23 minutes vs. Purdue and then logged only 12 minutes before picking up four fouls in a win over Loyola [Chicago] on Saturday,” Tommy Beer wrote on Forbes. “Once Smith figures out how to maintain his aggressiveness without getting whistled, and grows into his frame (despite being listed at 6’10”, Smith weighs less than 200 pounds), his draft should spike.”
The same website is one of the few that believes that Fernando would be a first-round pick should he declare after this season. NBADraft.net predicted that Fernando could be the No. 11 overall pick by the Utah Jazz.
NBA Draft Room has Smith being selected by the Boston Celtics (via the Memphis Grizzlies) with the No. 23 pick in 2019 and Fernando just missing getting drafted in the first round, going No. 31 to the Phoenix Suns.
DraftSite.com has both players going in the second round of the 2019 draft, with Fernando at No. 44 for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Smith at No. 55 by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Of the two, Fernando is having a much more consistent season. He is second on the team in scoring (13.7 points per game) to junior guard Anthony Cowan and first in rebounding (9.4), shooting percentage (.698) and blocks (2.5).
Fernando has scored in double figures in eight of 11 games, but since becoming the first Maryland player to post a double double in three straight games, Fernando has been held to single-digit scoring totals in two of the past three.
Smith is averaging 11.7 points and 7.1 rebounds. He, too, has scored in double figures eight times, including a season-high 20 points in Maryland’s 94-71 win Tuesday over Loyola Maryland after finishing with a season-low one point Saturday against Loyola Chicago.