Dewan Hernandez hasn’t played a game of collegiate basketball since March 15th, 2018, when the back of his jersey still read “Huell.” But that didn’t stop the Miami big man from being drafted with the second to last pick in the 2nd round, selected 59th overall by the world champion Toronto Raptors.
The big man’s draft stock was anything but clear, as one might expect when you haven’t played basketball in over a year. The former 5-star McDonald’s All-American was looked at as a late second round pick, a talented player who might be worth taking a low-risk gamble on.
Hernandez’s struggle, a “nightmare” as Jay Bilas called it, has been well-documented. He was the subject of an NCAA investigation involving improper contact with an agent and as a result, the Junior from Miami sat out the entire 2018-19 basketball season despite multiple appeals to the NCAA. He sat idly by while watching his team struggle through a brutal 14-18 season where his size and skillset was desperately missed.
Hernandez was not shy about how he felt about his treatment, calling it “unfair” and receiving the backing of AD Blake James. Despite the NCAA ruling, the Junior proved he had kept himself in great basketball shape, putting up fantastic numbers during the G-League and NBA Combines. His strength and agility numbers were among the best at his position, making him an ideal Center for today’s smaller NBA. At 6’10” and 225 though, he’s still more than a small-ball 5.
The Toronto Raptors have one of the most talented and deep rosters in the NBA but could definitely use more depth in their frontcourt. Hernandez may not make the 15 man roster right away but should be a strong competitor for one of those backup big man spots. His ability in the summer league will definitely go a long way in deciding whether he could be the next man up after veterans Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, who should be a great mentors to Hernandez if he makes it to the Toronto roster. Hernandez is big, athletic, and displayed a refined jumpshot during combine drills. Proving that jumper is effective in live game action will be key. He’s effective as a pick and roll big and in the post, though the latter can use more polish. He’ll also need to continue developing into a better defensive player.
Dewan Hernandez has got his NBA chance, on a talented playoff team that could use one more big man on their exceptionally deep roster. Even though he didn’t get to play last season, he’ll still have a chance at making an NBA roster.