Roughly one hour after his high school career came to an abrupt end, four-star Class of 2016 recruit Bruno Fernando instantly shifted his focus toward the next level.
Fernando, Montverde (Fla.) Academy's 6-foot-10, 225-pound center, whom one Divison I coach recently compared to Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, commited to SMU on Friday night in a nationally-televised announcement on ESPN2.
He chose the Mustangs over Florida State, Alabama and Marquette.
"First thing, I have been there [to SMU] on campus in the summer time and it was great for me," said Fernando, citing his relationship with SMU head coach Larry Brown as a major factor in his decision.
SMU reached out to Fernando early in the recruiting process before many high-majors quickly followed suit. Helping Brown's cause was that Fernando, a native of Angola, had ties to fellow countryman Yanick Moreira, who played at SMU from 2013 to 2015.
Brown also traveled to see Fernando play many times, including Valentine's Day in the PrimeTime Shootout in New Jersey alongside assistant Jerry Hobbie.
"It's not the first time [Brown] has come with Coach Jerry to see me," Fernando told SNY.tv at the time. This just shows that he cares about me a lot. He cares about me as a person more than he does about me as a basketball player."
Fernando's commitment pushes SMU into the Top-15 classes of the 247Sports Composite 2016 rankings, according to Director of Basketball Scouting Jerry Meyer. The Mustangs have also received pledges from four-star power forward Ted Kapita, three-star point guard Dashawn McDowell, three-star shooting guard Tom Wilson and three-star center Harry Froling.
Fernando already provides great defensive value with his elite shot-blocking and rebounding skills, while his raw offensive game should develop quickly under the tutelage of a Hall-of-Fame coach.
"His offensive skills are going to get better," Montverde assistant coach Rae Miller said. "It will take him some time to get there, but I think by the time he's a sophomore in college he'll be a much, much better offensive player."
Montverde was upset by La Lumiere (Ind.) on Friday afternoon in the semifinals of the Dick's Sporting Goods High School National Tournament, ending the Eagles' bid at a fourth consecutive tournament title.
Fernando, though disappointed by the outcome, is prepared for the next chapter of his basketball journey.
"That was one tough game, we all know, so I'm just going to keep working hard," he said. "I'm ready for the next level. Whatever comes my way, I'm ready to deal with."