Kim English has been busy. As discussed in our transfer portal article on Josh Oduro (https://theprovidencecrier.com/2023/03/25/transfer-portal-spotlight-george-mason-forward-josh-oduro/#more-6554), English needs to do a lot in his first week on the job. He needs to re-recruit the current Friar roster, try to win back the 2023 recruiting class, and land a few transfer portal players to improve the Friar roster. He reconfirmed the commitment of 2023 recruit Donovan Santoro, which is a heck of a start (https://theprovidencecrier.com/2022/10/14/pc-adds-3rd-socal-academy-prospect-in-donovan-santoro-analyzing-the-commitment/).
Another key piece to building the Kim English era in Providence is landing talented portal players. Insert freshman transfer Justin Fernandez. Fernandez entered the portal and is looking for a new home after a year at George Mason. A highly touted recruit that actually chose GMU over Ed Cooley and Providence, Fernandez surprisingly played sparingly at George Mason. He averaged 4 points on 14 minutes while shooting 34% from deep. The Richmond, VA product will have 3 years of eligibility wherever he chooses to play.
We break down his game below and how he’d fit on the Friar roster.
The first thing that jumps out to me when watching Fernandez is his athleticism. Fernandez is listed in various places at 6’5-6’6. He is a high flyer that routinely finishes above the rim in transition and in the half court. He’s not a one trick pony, however. Fernandez shows an ability to knock down the deep hall with consistency. He has a nice stroke that shows he can be a reliable three point shooter at the college level.
English says he wants to get shooters on the floor at PC. Fernandez can do that, which is why English is pursuing him. English also wants to get up and down the court. Fernandez can run with the best of them.
I’ll admit that I didn’t watch a ton (okay…any) George Mason games this year, so I’d love to dig in and find out why Fernandez didn’t get more run.
He was a blue chip recruit, consensus Top 150 player by the primary recruiting sites and chose George Mason over PC, Florida, Tennessee, and Clemson. He was the highest rated recruit George Mason landed since 2011, which shows the recruiting chops of Kim English.
PC Roster Fit
When I watched the Kentucky tournament game against PC that feels like a year ago at this point, the one thing that jumped out to me was how many athletic wings they had attacking the glass. We have Bryce Hopkins, while they seemingly had 5 of those body types. PC has to add more bodies to the wing.
PC also needs to get more athletic on the wing while also landing more shooters. Fernandez does both of those things.
He is in many ways duplicative of Corey Floyd Jr. CFJr is a more physical, big bodied guard that showcases a surprising athleticism and three point shot. Fernandez has those same traits while maybe being a bit more wiry and not as willing to mix it up in the paint. I’m all for landing multiple shooters that can finish above the rim, knock down the deep ball, and play solid D. Floyd Jr. and Fernandez are ideally your starting 2 and 3 in 2024 and beyond.
The only hesitancy I have if we are to land Fernandez is why he didn’t get more time at George Mason. A player of his caliber and recruiting profile you’d think would be a 20-25 minute/game player from Day 1. I’ll trust the judgment of English on this one.