SEABROOK – Two University of Maryland basketball players, Bruno Fernando and Anthony Cowan Jr., have elected to leave school early and declare for the 2019 NBA Draft, athletic department officials announced on April 15.
Both players have signed with an agent who will work together with the university during the process, according to Maryland officials. Under new rules established by the NCAA, college players can hire an agent while remaining eligible to come back during the evaluation process.
If they elect to return to school before the draft, they would have to end their relationship with the agent before the May 29 withdrawal deadline.
“Both Bruno and Anthony are taking advantage of the new rules and hiring agents to make educated decisions as they pursue their goals of playing in the NBA,” Head Coach Mark Turgeon said. “Both of them will have the opportunity to take advantage of the system set in place to gain feedback on their futures. Our coaching staff will be working in tandem every step of the way.”
Both Fernando and Cowan were a part of the 2018-19 roster that ended the season with 23 wins and a No. 6 seed in their regional bracket in the NCAA Tournament.
However, they faced several challenges as well, including an early first-round exit to Nebraska in the Big Ten Tournament on March 14 and only making to the second round of the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament.
Following their 69-67 loss to LSU in the Round of 32 on March 23, Fernando did not respond to questions concerning his future status on the team. The Luanda, Angola forward returned for his sophomore season following a stellar freshman year, where he completed a team-high three double-doubles and earned Big Ten All-Freshman Team honors.
In his two years in College Park, Fernando posted 22 double-doubles, tying him for second most in Maryland season history. This season, he became the only player in the Big Ten Conference to earn First Team All-Big Ten and All-Defensive Team honors while becoming a top-5 finalist for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top center.
“It has long been my dream to play basketball at its highest level in the NBA,” Fernando said. “With that being said, I am taking the pre-draft process extremely seriously. I want to ensure that I make an informed decision that will set the foundation for sustained success and prosperity throughout my playing career and beyond.”
Cowan, a Bowie native and former St. John’s College High School star, also returned after a 2018 season where he became the team’s veteran leader. He led the team in scoring (15.8 points per game), free throw percentage (.848), assists (5.1), steals (1.5) and minutes per game (37.0).
“I want to be remembered and would like to have a plaque or my name in the rafters,” Cowan said in a 2018 interview with the Prince George’s Sentinel. “I just want to be remembered as someone who wins (for Maryland).”
Cowan has started every game (99) since becoming a part of Maryland’s roster in the 2016-17 season. In the past two seasons, he has led the Terps in scoring, assists and minutes. This year, he added a new stat to his resume as he led the team with 31 steals.
“My last three seasons at Maryland have been a true blessing, and I have grown so much as a player and person,” Cowan Jr. said. “As I enter my final year of eligibility, I feel it’s important to receive an evaluation of my game from professional teams to best prepare myself for life after college.”
One player set to make his return next season for the Terrapins is forward Jalen Smith. The Baltimore native announced on April 8 that he planned to return to College Park after his standout play during the NCAA Tournament was getting national attention.
The forward averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds in the two games Maryland played, including a team-high 15-point performance vs. LSU.
“I’m excited to return to Maryland for my sophomore year and advance my education as I continue to develop both,” Smith said.