NBA Draft 2019: Bruno Fernando and Prospects on the Rise Ahead of March Madness

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 19, 2019

Maryland forward Bruno Fernando, right, of Angola, drives against Minnesota center Matz Stockman, of Norway, in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Friday, March 8, 2019, in College Park, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

A strong individual performance in the NCAA men's basketball tournament could translate to a high selection in the 2019 NBA draft for some prospects. 

The college basketball stars entering March Madness are looking to follow in the footsteps of Donte DiVincenzo and Jalen Brunson, who parlayed strong showings for Villanova into higher-than-expected draft positions in 2018.

Over the next three weeks, a number of players will follow the same path as the former Villanova stars, or they'll continue to lay the foundation for high first-round selections by extending great seasons in the national spotlight. 


2019 NBA 1st-Round Mock Draft

1. New York Knicks: Zion Williamson, PF, Duke

2. Phoenix Suns: Ja Morant, PG, Murray State

3. Cleveland Cavaliers: RJ Barrett, SF, Duke

4. Chicago Bulls: Cam Reddish, SF, Duke

5. Atlanta Hawks: Rui Hachimura, SF/PF, Gonzaga

6. Memphis Grizzlies: De'Andre Hunter, SF, Virginia

7. Atlanta Hawks (from Dallas): Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech 

8. Washington Wizards: Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt

9. New Orleans Pelicans: Nassir Little, SF, North Carolina

10. Los Angeles Lakers: Jontay Porter, C, Missouri 

11. Charlotte Hornets: Bruno Fernando, C, Maryland

12. Minnesota Timberwolves: Coby White, PG/SG, North Carolina

13. Orlando Magic: Keldon Johnson, SF, Kentucky

14. Boston Celtics (from Sacramento): Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana

15. Miami Heat: Sekou Doumbouya, Limoges CSP (France) 

16. Brooklyn Nets: Bol Bol, C, Oregon

17. Detroit Pistons: KZ Okpala, SF, Stanford

18. Boston Celtics (from Los Angeles Clippers): Naz Reid, C, LSU 

19. Utah Jazz: Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga

20. San Antonio Spurs: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Virginia Tech 

21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Daniel Gafford, PF/C, Arkansas

22. Boston Celtics: Jaxson Hayes, PF/C, Texas

23. Portland Trailblazers: Tre Jones, PG, Duke

24. Indiana Pacers: Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC

25. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Houston): Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky

26. Philadelphia 76ers: Grant Williams, PF, Tennessee

27. Brooklyn Nets (from Denver): Goga Bitadze, C, Buducnost (Montenegro) 

28. Golden State Warriors: P.J. Washington, PF, Kentucky

29. San Antonio Spurs (from Toronto): Talen Horton-Tucker, PF, Iowa State

30. Milwaukee Bucks: Matisse Thybulle, SF, Washington 

Draft order based on records following Monday's NBA games. 


Prospects on the Rise

Bruno Fernando, C, Maryland

Maryland center Bruno Fernando made the right decision to come back to the Terrapins for his sophomore season, as he's improved his skill set and become a potential lottery pick. 

The big man is a double-double machine for his team, who are the No. 6 seed in the East Region. 

Fernando averages 13.7 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, and he has 19 double-doubles, with seven of them coming in a row during the heart of Big Ten play.

Since he's been able to produce on a consistent level for the Terrapins, the 20-year-old has proved he can be a reliable asset in the paint at the next level. 

Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

According to his ESPN.com scouting report, Fernando has impressive mobility, power and explosiveness, but he still has plenty to work on, which is why he's ranked 31st on their prospects list at the moment,

Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com, who has the player landing at the No. 21 pick in his latest mock draft, mentioned the same qualities and his NBA-ready body as strengths that make him stand out.

The good news for Fernando is he can drastically improve those projections by thriving in March, and a potential second-round matchup with LSU's Naz Reid would be a dream one-on-one showdown for the Maryland center to show off his skills. 

If he continues to record double-doubles in the Big Dance, Fernando could skyrocket up to the bottom of the lottery, where his size and length will end up benefiting his future NBA team right away. 


Coby White, SG, North Carolina

Coby White burst on to the national stage when he scored 21 points in North Carolina's regular-season finale against Duke.

In fact, that performance was the latest in a recent surge in production for the 19-year-old, who enters the NCAA tournament with seven straight double-digit point games. 

During an expected long run through the NCAA tournament for the Tar Heels, White could be the star of the show, as he's shown in flashes that he's capable of taking over games. 

Nell Redmond/Associated Press

He has a trio of 30-point performances for the Tar Heels, with his last one coming against Syracuse February 26. 

The freshman shooting guard is already on the radar of most scouts, as he's ranked 11th in ESPN's rankings, while Parrish has him going 20th overall. 

If White extends his successful first year with Roy Williams' squad into March Madness, NBA teams will have a hard time passing up on him at the end of the top 10, or in the final lottery selections, as he's shown plenty of promise as a pure scorer. 


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.