Maryland Terps recruit Bruno Fernando didn't get a chance to play in the Capital Classic all-star game due to an injury in practice. (Don Markus / Baltimore Sun video)
WASHINGTON — With hopes of getting their first glimpse of four-star prospect Bruno Fernando, Maryland fans battled National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade traffic and the typical weekend Metro delays just to get to Verizon Center for Saturday's Capital Classic.
They were left disappointed, not by what Fernando did on the court but by the fact that he never left the bench. The 6-foot-10, 225-pound power forward from Angola, who played a post-graduate year at IMG Academy in Florida last season, sat out the game after banging knees with one of his U.S. teammates toward the end of practice Friday — a practice Fernando apparently dominated.
Fernando, who missed the last 10 games of the IMG schedule after experiencing pain in his left knee, was hoping to show what he could do against the Capital All-Stars, even possibly adding his name to the impressive list of the 44-year-old event's former MVPs that includes LeBron James (2003) and Patrick Ewing (1981).
That honor went to Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, a 6-8 power forward from Philadelphia who is headed to Villanova. Cosby-Roundtree hit all nine shots he attempted, scoring 18 points and blocking three shots in a 113-101 victory for the U.S. team.
Fernando said he was told shortly before tipoff that he wasn't going to play.
"I was excited to get out there, just play and have fun," Fernando said after the game. "Unfortunately that stuff happens. … Yesterday I kind of hurt it a little bit in practice. It wasn't nothing bad; I felt great after practice. I just think [the Maryland coaches] want me to feel great and my body to be ready for next year."
According to U.S. coach Carl Arrigale, Cosby-Roundtree's coach at Neumann Goretti in Philadelphia, the decision to have Fernando sit out Saturday's game came after consulting with Maryland coach Mark Turgeon, who in accordance with NCAA rules was not at the game.
"They didn't want to put him in any jeopardy of getting hurt," Arrigale said. "We wanted to be on the safe side. He's got a bright, bright future. [The Maryland coaches] kind of pulled the plug on it. I'm not going to get in the way. But at least he got a chance to experience it."
Arrigale said he was impressed by what he saw from Fernando during two days of practice, as well as what he got from Maryland-bound guard Darryl Morsell (Mount Saint Joseph). Morsell started for the U.S. and finished with 10 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals.
"He's a super kid. I enjoyed being around him for a couple of days," Arrigale said of Fernando. "Just the energy he brings. He can shoot it, he's strong. A lot of high school kids don't have great footwork. He looked like he had pretty good footwork. … Energy guy, plays hard, great teammate. Good guy."
Arrigale said what stood out about the 6-5, 200-pound Morsell was his effort.
"Darryl plays hard," Arrigale said. "He was really appreciative of being here. He looks like he can shoot it, strong driver. He looks like he's going to be a really good player, too. Those two guys are going to be good."
Morsell, who will also play in the Jordan Brand Classic all-star game Friday in Brooklyn, N.Y., said he was disappointed that Maryland fans didn't get a chance to see Fernando play.
"That's my guy. I talked to him before the game and he was kind of hurt," Morsell said. "I told him we were going to win for him."
Playing on the same team in practice Friday, Morsell said he thought Fernando "was the best big man in practice, to me."
"He's so versatile for his size," Morsell said. "He made a lot of 3s in practice. He's a great interior presence on defense. I'm just excited to play with him next year."
Despite the all-star game setting that typically features lots of dunks and little in the way of defense, Morsell demonstrated the unselfish offensive game and tough defensive effort that has Turgeon excited.
"I just always play winning basketball, that's how I was raised," Morsell said. "That's what I always try to do. I don't try to go out of character — ever."
Notes: Iowa signee Luka Garza, a 6-11, 240-pound center who played for former Maryland player and assistant Chuck Driesell at the Maret School in Washington, was named MVP of the Capital All-Stars, finishing with 18 points and 14 rebounds.