Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Fernandez To Sustain Scorer's Mentality In PG Year

Potential is a word that’s thrown around at a mightily heavy pace in the prep world.

Despite this, it cannot be pigeonholed as an overused cliché. 

In dissecting the upside of a post-graduate player, potential is either capitalized on or squandered. 

Immeasurable intangibles such as work rate and performance on elevated stages help gauge such a pivotal factor.

Kevin Fernandez, a well-built 6-foot-1 guard at Scotland Campus Sports, has the unique blend of potential and promise. 

Known for an illustrious career locally at Methuan (Ma.), Fernandez established himself as a consistent high scorer with an innate knack for crunch time production. 

Such attributes enabled Fernandez to average an area best 25 points as a senior, capping off a four-year varsity career.

The Lawrence, Mass. native has received a Division-II offer from LIU-Post and has several programs intrigued.

If Fernandez performs up to par, sustaining the scoring onslaughts which embedded his name in Massachusetts high school hoops lore, the potential will be translatable to greater opportunity.  

Fernandez contains the all-around toolset, poise, and diversified scoring acumen to be a mainstay in the Northeast Conference or elsewhere on the Division-I market. 

Knowing the staunch emphasis NEC programs place on gritty guard play, the possibilities are evident.

Growing up in Lawrence, Mass., Fernandez decided at an early age which route was best suited for him.
An area now tarnished by a rampant drug culture, even Lawrence's most gifted of athletes walk a very fine line between stardom and the unforgiving pull of the streets.

 Ensconced in an inner circle consisting of former Central Catholic (Ma.) star Tyler Nelson and national Florida schoolboy talent L.J. Figueroa, Fernandez’ focus never faltered.

Nelson, a prolific scoring guard who eclipsed 1,400 career points and steered Central Catholic to a state championship game berth, is currently an All-MAAC performer at Fairfield

He led the Stags with 19.5 points per game during the 2016-17 campaign.

Though he initially played sparingly at Lawrence, the 6-foot-5 Figueroa underwent a massive transformation while plying his trade in Florida’s elite-level prep circuit. 

Discovering an explosive scoring engine within him, Figueroa fled obscurity while evolving into a nationally ranked recruit.
Known for maniacal scoring eruptions and the ability to dictate a game when hot, Figueroa starred at Oldsmar Christian and later West Oaks Academy in the talent-rich SIAA conference. 

After falling out of favor at Lawrence, Figueroa revitalized his career. 

He was soon sifting through offers from Louisville, Texas, Miami, and a plethora of others.

“Tyler was a senior when I was a freshman at Central Catholic, so he really took me under his wing that year,” Fernandez said.

“He knows that coming from where I’m from, there’s a big Dominican culture and the interest is more in baseball. He told me ‘be patient. Keep working.’ He knows that my AAU coach and (SCS coach) Coach (Chris) Chaney have my best interest at heart, so he knows this is the best place for me right now."

Figueroa happens to be Fernandez’ distant cousin. Yet the competitive spirit they shared ultimately forged a basketball brotherhood.

“We would play pretty much every day around Lawrence, pushing each other to get better and constantly getting after it on the court,” Fernandez said.

“With L.J., you have another kid who was around all the other guys who didn’t make it. Guys that could have gone somewhere but didn’t. He knew going out to Florida was a great opportunity for him.”

At the start of his career at Central Catholic, the promise and the quality was evident in Fernandez. 

The rugged guard seemed destined to follow the path of program greats such as the aforementioned Nelson and multi-faceted 6-foot-7 forward Jonathon Cruz, who helped lead Division-I Quinnipiac to a berth in the Northeast Conference title game in 2010.

Fernandez won a state championship ring as a freshman on Central Catholic’s football team and earned a berth in the state title in hoops. He produced on big stages, most notably with a 29-point performance during a 66-62 win over St. John’s prep in the state tourney his junior season.

Fernandez was equally as critical defensively, pickpocketing a pair of steals during heightened pressure possessions and securing pivotal rebounds down the stretch. Beyond his game-best 29 points, Fernandez finished with eight boards, five steals, and four assists. He scored 18 of his points in the second half, as Central avenged a 76-51 loss from the regular season.

He was a captain, a mentally tough kid often tasked with guarding taller players at the three and four. Then, as a senior, the plot skidded.

He wound up transferring to a Metheun program that was very much on the rise following the best season in 16 years. The program upgraded its roster and returned All Eagle Tribune star Andrew Marcelino, generating the high expectations heading into Fernandez senior season. In his first-ever game since transferring from Central, Fernandez scored 22 points and ripped eight boards, igniting the offense en route to a 59-43 win over Marshfield.

In his lone post-graduate season at Scotland Campus Sports, Fernandez will look to capitalize on the talent he displayed during his four-year high school career. He’ll carry the memories, along with the pride and fervor component that comes with representing Lawrence.

“There’s a lot of big expectations coming out of there,” Fernandez said. “There’s a lot of people who were talented enough but didn’t make it to the college level, because of their situations. Grades and stuff like that. So, there’s a lot of people willing to help. Willing to make sure you are on the right path to become successful.”