Maryland freshman center Bruno Fernando and sophomore guards Anthony Cowan Jr. and Kevin Huerter all were honored by the Big Ten Feb. 26 for their play throughout the regular season.
Fernando earned a spot on the Big Ten's all-freshman squad. Cowan was named third-team All-Big Ten and to the conference's all-defensive team. Huerter was All-Big Ten honorable mention. It was the first All-Big Ten honors for each of the players.
Senior center Michal Cekovsky was named Maryland's honoree for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.
The all-freshman team, voted on by the conference's coaches, also included guards Trent Frazier (Illinois) and Brad Davison (Wisconsin) and big men Jaren Jackson Jr. (Michigan State) and Kaleb Wesson (Ohio State). Jackson was named the Freshman of the Year by the coaches and Big Ten media.
Fernando's spot on the all-freshman team caps a regular season in which he averaged 10.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game despite playing just 22.1 minutes per contest. He's in the midst of arguably his best stretch of the season, as he's scored double-digit points in five of his past eight games. He had two double-doubles during that stretch.
Fernando is averaging 12.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game in that eight-game stretch, during which the biggest key has been simply staying on the floor. He's averaging 26.6 minutes per game throughout that stretch; the 6-foot-10 Angolan has learned how to defend and gain position on the block without fouling. He's improved on both ends of the floor, whether it's in pick-and-rolls, in isolation on the block or protecting the rim.
Fernando has also put together a season-long highlight reel, which include two monster alley-oops
Cowan was named to third team All-Big Ten by the coaches and media. He averaged 15.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game, up from last year's 10.7, 3.9 and 3.7. He scored in double digits 29 times. Cowan shot 37.1 percent from 3-point range and 84.6 from the free-throw line, both improvements from last year.
Cowan also averaged 37 minutes per game, starting all 31 of the Terps' regular-season contests. With Maryland lacking another primary ball-handler, Cowan played 40 or more minutes eight times. As such, Cowan was asked to lead the Terps' offense for entire games. He was the primary recipient of high-ball screens that triggered Maryland's offense for much of the year, and the Terps depended on the ensuing decisions he made, whether that be driving all the way to the hoop, dishing to a rolling big man or finding a 3-point shooter on the wing.
Maryland also depended on Cowan to guard opposing point guards, and the coaches rewarded him for his defense with a spot on the all-defensive team. Despite his 6-foot, 170-pound frame, he made life difficult for ball-handlers -- he averaged 1.5 steals -- and held his own when he was switched onto bigger players.
"I'm taking a lot of pride,"
Cowan said after his team beat Iowa Jan. 7
. "Everybody keeps talking about how many minutes I'm playing, but I'll just get a massage tomorrow and stretch a little bit and I'm good. Do a little bit of extra conditioning. I'll be alright. I'm going to give this team everything I have."
Much like Cowan, Huerter also improved his numbers across the board. Huerter averaged 14.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists, up from 9.3, 4.9 and 2.7. He averaged 42.1 percent from 3-point range and 75.8 percent from the line, which were also up from his freshman season.
The biggest improvement Huerter made was in expanding his offensive game. About 66 percent of Huerter's shots last year were from 3-point range and he only took 28 free throws. This year, about 56 percent of his shots were from deep and he took 95 free throws. He was more comfortable creating ball screens on his own in isolation and showed off some creative finishes in the lane.
Huerter and Cowan developed into crunch-time scorers this year, as well, which
Huerter talked about
after the pair scored 23 of Maryland's final 28 points during a win against Wisconsin Feb. 4.
"Those are the type of plays you've got to make if you want to be considered the better players in the league, leaders on your team," Huerter said. "You've got to learn how to win games at the end of the game like we did."