Maryland's Huerter sees first-round stock rise while Fernando, Jackson barely mentioned in mock drafts

At the Big Ten’s media day in October in New York, Maryland sophomore Kevin Huerter didn’t seem to mind being left off the preseason all-conference team or not being mentioned much on NBA mock draft lists for 2018, as fellow sophomore teammate Justin Jackson and others were.

“I plan on being at Maryland for four years and not much has changed that,” Huerter said at the time.

Much has changed, particularly in the week since Huerter’s breakout performance at the NBA draft combine in Chicago.

According to sources familiar with the process, several NBA teams have the 6-foot-7 Huerter on their first-round radar. Huerter has worked out for at least two of the teams he has been linked to in mocked drafts, the Atlanta Hawks before the combine and the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday.

Huerter will work out for another team listed as a potential landing spot, the Utah Jazz, on Monday. Huerter is also scheduled to work out Friday for the Los Angeles Lakers, where he will likely be matched up against another potential late first-round pick in former Duke star Grayson Allen.

Tom Huerter said last week that his son is expected to arrive at the family’s home in upstate New York a few hours after working out for the Jazz and the family will start discussing his options. Huerter has until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday to decide whether to return to Maryland.

In a text message Thursday, one NBA executive wrote of Huerter, “A likely first-round, but he loves Maryland. Tough decision.”

Huerter’s performance in Chicago – from the testing in athletic and shooting drills to the 5-on-5 scrimmages to the interviews with NBA scouts and executives – elevated the stock of a player thought to be an early-to-mid second-round pick at best going into the combine.

Several NBA mock drafts have Huerter going in the first round.

As of Thursday, Sports Illustrated had Huerter going No. 18 overall to the San Antonio Spurs. With his stock jumping from No. 47 overall before the combine, Sports Illustrated called Huerter “perhaps the biggest winner at the draft combine.”

NBAdraft.net has Huerter going No. 21 to the Jazz. Fox Sports listed Huerter at No. 24 with the Portland Trail Blazers. Bleacher Report mentioned Huerter going No. 27 to the Boston Celtics, who brought him in for a tryout before the combine. The Hawks could pick Huerter at No. 30, according to draftsite.com.

Conversely, whatever buzz Bruno Fernando created at the combine – particularly with his athleticism and outside shooting in the drills – has seemed to dissipate. The 6-10 Angolan is not currently listed on any mock drafts for 2018, though he has been mentioned as high as the No. 2 pick in the draft in 2019.

A league source said Fernando has been told by most teams to go back to Maryland for another year. A source said both Huerter and Fernando were recommended to return for another year, in part because next year’s draft is considered weaker and they would have a better chance to become lottery picks.

One NBA source said he was asked by one team with interest in Fernando as a second-round pick, "Would you mind if your jersey said G [as in G League] next year?” Like Huerter, Fernando has yet to sign with an agent and can still return to school.

Jackson, who had been considered by some to be a potential lottery pick going into his sophomore year after a solid performance in last year’s combine, was unable to work out last week because of lingering sorenss in his surgically repaired right shoulder.

Despite missing more than half of last season after tearing his labrum, Jackson is still being mentioned in some mock drafts as a potential mid-to-low second-round pick. Jackson does not have the same option to return as Huerter and Fernando because he signed with an agent.

don.markus@baltsun.com

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