2019 Draft Workouts: Bruno Fernando

June 13, 2019 - Maryland center Bruno Fernando speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the St. Vincent Center.

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2019 Draft Workouts: Bruno Fernando

June 13, 2019 - Maryland center Bruno Fernando speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the St. Vincent Center.
Jun 13, 2019  |  02:25

2019 Draft Workouts: Daniel Gafford

June 13, 2019 - Arkansas forward Daniel Gafford speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the St. Vincent Center.
Jun 13, 2019  |  02:39

2019 Draft Workouts: Terance Mann

June 13, 2019 - Florida State guard Terance Mann speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the St. Vincent Center.
Jun 13, 2019  |  01:31

2019 Draft Workouts: Sandy Cohen III

June 13, 2019 - Wisconsin-Green Bay guard Sandy Cohen III speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the St. Vincent Center.
Jun 13, 2019  |  01:22

2019 Draft Workouts: Jaylen Nowell (Second Workout)

June 13, 2019 - Washington guard Jaylen Nowell speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his second pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the St. Vincent Center.
Jun 13, 2019  |  01:24

2019 Draft Workouts: Tremont Waters

June 13, 2019 - LSU guard Tremont Waters speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss at the St. Vincent Center.
Jun 13, 2019  |  02:33

2019 Draft Workouts: Paul Jorgensen

June 13, 2019 - Butler guard Paul Jorgensen speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the St. Vincent Center.
Jun 13, 2019  |  02:11

Workouts Starting to Have Familiar Feel for Fernando, Gafford

Two Sophomore Big Men Headline Thursday's Pre-Draft Workout
by Wheat Hotchkiss
Pacers.com Writer/Editor

Bruno Fernando and Daniel Gafford never faced off against each other in college, but the two 6-10 centers have become well acquainted with each other over the last month. Both Fernando and Gafford declared for the 2019 NBA Draft after their sophomore seasons (at Maryland and Arkansas, respectively) and have run into one another frequently over the past few weeks.

They went head-to-head during a workout for the Pistons on May 21, met up again at a workout for the Hawks on June 3, and squared off once more on Thursday at the St. Vincent Center.

"It's been good," Fernando said of the matchup. "We're kind of getting to know each other's games. We're kind of getting to know each other's moves on the post and stuff like that.

"It's still very competitive."

Their head-to-head workouts add an extra layer of intrigue as Fernando and Gafford are projected to be taken in roughly the same range in the draft, which will be held a week from Thursday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Most mock drafts have the two big men going in the late first or early second round, often within a few picks of one another.

2019 DRAFT CENTRAL: Complete Coverage at Pacers.com/Draft »

Fernando, a native of Angola, tested the draft waters a year ago before opting to return to Maryland for his sophomore season. That proved to be a wise decision, as he improved his numbers across the board last season.

After averaging 10.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 0.7 assists, and 1.2 blocks per game as a freshman, Fernando upped his averages to 13.6 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.9 blocks as a sophomore.

"It developed a lot," Fernando said about his game over the last year. "I think just a lot of aspects of my game — just being comfortable on the court, knowing the plays, and my feel for the game is so much better. Being able to do little things on the court like passing the ball out of double teams (and) really giving me the ability to space the floor and develop my jump shot."

Fernando has the build to play in the NBA right away. At the NBA Draft Combine last month in Chicago, he measured at a sturdy 237 pounds and just 5.4 percent body fat. He has a soft touch in the post, can finish with both hands, and racked up 21 double-doubles last season at Maryland.

"I think my ability to rebound is really something that's going to translate to the next level right away," Fernando said Thursday. "I think I was able to dominate the boards at the college level, so I feel like going to the NBA, it's one thing (where) I'm really going to excel."

Gafford is a different build than Fernando. The Arkansas native loves to run the floor and relies heavily on his explosive leaping ability. Gafford had a 36.5-inch vertical jump at the Combine, tied with Georgia's Nicolas Claxton for the highest vertical of any center.

That leaping ability comes in handy on both ends for Gafford, who thrives in transition and in the pick-and-roll offensively, where he averaged 16.9 points and shot 66 percent from the floor as a sophomore. Defensively, Gafford is a shot-blocking menace who averaged over two blocks per game over the course of his college career.

"Running the floor, teams need bigs that run the floor," Gafford said when asked how he can help a team at the next level. "That's the main thing...I feel like I can come in and give as much energy as I possibly can to the team. Just come in and be that guy that's high-energy from the beginning to the end."

Bruno Fernando, Daniel Gafford

Maryland's Bruno Fernando (dunking on the left) and Arkansas' Daniel Gafford (dunking on the right) both possess skillsets that could make them first-round picks in next week's NBA Draft. (Photo Credit: @Pacers)

While Fernando tested the waters a year ago, Gafford did not go through the pre-draft process despite being projected as a potential first-round pick after a breakout freshman season where he won SEC Freshman of the Week honors three times. He earned first-team All-SEC and honorable mention All-America honors as a sophomore and expressed no regrets about the decision to return to school.

"I feel like it benefited me a lot because I came back to school (and) got another year under my belt," Gafford said. "I got some more experience taking a step into a leadership role."

One thing that could hurt both Gafford and Fernando is their lack of a developed 3-point shot. Gafford did not attempt a single three in his college career, while Fernando attempted just 13. That wouldn't have been seen as a major negative a few years ago, but even centers are now expected to stretch the floor in the modern NBA game.

The media is present for shooting drills at the end of every pre-draft workout. Fernando and Gafford were the only two prospects to date who were not attempting shots from beyond the 3-point arc, instead focusing on their mid-range game.

Fernando might have the better potential to develop an outside shot quickly. He shot just under 78 percent from the free throw line last season, while Gafford failed to eclipse 60 percent in either of his two seasons at Arkansas.

With the draft just a week away, both Fernando and Gafford have felt the anticipation building. It would be particularly special for Fernando to hear his name called, as he would be the first Angolan-born ever drafted.

"It would mean a lot," Fernando said. "I'll kind of just start thinking back (to) everything I've been through ever since I picked up a basketball.

"To be able to now be in this position...if you told me two years ago I would be in this position to be the first Angolan ever drafted I would never believe (it). Just to see all the hard work I've put in throughout the years really paying off...and just hearing my name called, man, it's going to be a feeling that I can't explain."

For Gafford, Draft night is simply the start of his journey.

"It's going to mean my work has paid off, but the work is just now beginning," he said. "...You're going to have fun that night, (but) the next day, you've got to hit the ground running because you're trying to boost your career to where you can stay in the league."

Terance Mann

Florida State wing Terance Mann could be an option for Indiana in the second round of the draft. (Photo Credit: @Pacers)

Pacers Get Second Look at Mann

Last month, David McClure, the Pacers' Assistant Coach for Player Development, had the opportunity to coach one of the teams in the scrimmage portion of the NBA Draft Combine. McClure coached Team 2 in a pair of scrimmages in Chicago.

While higher-profile players typically sit out the scrimmages (Fernando and Gafford did not participate, for example), other players use the five-on-five action as an opportunity to attempt to potentially boost their stock.

Over the past week, the Pacers have brought in a number of prospects who played for McClure at the combine. Nevada guard Cody Martin worked out for the Pacers last Thursday, while Croatian forward Luka Šamanić had an individual workout on Tuesday.

Two more players from McClure's combine team visited Indiana on Thursday, though only one was able to work out.

LSU guard Tremont Waters sprained his right ankle late in the second scrimmage in Chicago and has been unable to work out since, but traveled to Indianapolis to meet with the Pacers on Thursday (for more on Waters, check out Mark Montieth's latest story).

Florida State's Terance Mann, meanwhile, worked out for McClure and the Pacers on Thursday. Mann is a 6-6 wing who averaged 11.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists for the Seminoles as a senior last season.

Mann is best known for his tough-nosed defense, something that should help him earn a roster spot in the NBA.

Offensively, he is not a dynamic scorer, but possesses enough all-around skill to help his team in a number of ways, whether that's handling the ball or setting screens to free up his teammates. In the scrimmages at the combine, he compiled 11 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists over his two games.

"Just be able to make the right plays," Mann said of what he can bring to an NBA team. "Kind of like an Andre Iguodala-type, always out there making the right decisions, knocking down open shots, getting in the paint and finding people, offensive rebounding, stuff like that."

Mann struggled with his outside shot for most of his college career. He only attempted a total of 36 3-pointers over his first two years on campus, then took more attempts as a junior but converted a paltry 25 percent.

He showed marked improvement as a senior, when he went 30-for-77 (39 percent) from beyond the arc and also raised his free throw percentage from .655 to .790. Mann said he went to the gym three times a day over the past year to get up shots and fine-tune his stroke.

Sandy Cohen III

Sandy Cohen III led Wisconsin-Green Bay in all five major statistical categories last season. (Photo Credit: @Pacers)

Cohen Hoping All-Around Game is Ticket to NBA

Sandy Cohen III was a late bloomer in college. He played a minimal role in two-plus seasons at Marquette before opting to transfer to Wisconsin-Green Bay early in his junior season.

Cohen finally found a home with the Phoenix and enjoyed a standout senior season. The 6-5 guard led Green Bay in all five major statistical categories as a senior, averaging 17.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.1 blocks, and 1.9 steals while helping his school to a 21-17 record and a run to the championship game in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.

He did all that with pretty solid efficiency, attempting over 12 shots per game but still shooting 47.5 percent from the field.

Cohen's all-around versatility could make him an intriguing option for an NBA team.

"I think that's one of my biggest upsides is that I can do a lot of things on the court," Cohen said Thursday. "I'm very versatile and I hope teams get a chance to see that."

Workouts are of extra importance to Cohen. While he put up big numbers after transferring, they came against a lower level of competition in the Horizon League, so scouts will want to see how he holds up against higher-level competition.

Nowell Returns for Second Workout

One player at Thursday's workout was making his second visit to Indiana. Jaylen Nowell, a 6-4 combo guard from Washington, attended the Pacers' first pre-draft workout on May 21.

The fact that the Pacers brought the Pac-12 Player of the Year for a second workout may or may not mean anything. It could mean they have extra interest in him or it could simply mean they needed to add another wing to Thursday's group and Nowell was available.

The Pacers have had a handful of prospects in for two workouts in recent years.

The most notable example is Solomon Hill, who they wound up taking with the 23rd pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Davon Reed worked out twice for Indiana in 2017 and was drafted by Phoenix, but the Pacers signed him to a two-way contract when the Suns waived him last fall. Last summer, the Pacers worked out Creighton guard Marcus Foster twice, but Foster went undrafted and spent last season playing professionally in Korea.

Nowell said on Thursday he had a positive impression of the Pacers from his first visit to Indiana.

"It's just real down-to-earth people in the staff (and) just around here in general," he said. "(It's) a great place to play. There's not many distractions and that's a great thing for guys who want to just come in and grind and get better."


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