Person of Interest: Raptors No. 59 pick Dewan Hernandez

The Raptors selected Dewan Hernandez 59th overall at the NBA Draft.

With the 59th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, the Toronto Raptors selected University of Miami centre Dewan Hernandez.

Here’s a little more on the relatively unknown big-man prospect Raptors general manager Bobby Webster and his team chose with their lone pick on the evening.

Age: 22
Position: Centre
Height: Six-foot-11 | Weight: 235 lbs
School: University of Miami
2017-18 stats: PPG: 11.4 | RPG: 6.7 | BPG: 1.0 | FG%: 57.6

Changed name

Even if you’re the most hardcore of college basketball fan you still might not know who Hernandez is and that’s for a good reason.

Last October, Hernandez legally changed his name from “Dewan Huell” to “Dewan Hernandez” in honour of his mother, Christina Hernandez.

“I’m honouring my mom for always being there for me whenever I needed her from when I was born,” Hernandez told The Miami Herald.

Lost season

Another thing that may jump out to you as a bit strange in regards to Hernandez is the fact the last stats being cited are from the 2017-18 season instead of 2018-19.

Following that 2017-18 sophomore year, Hernandez declared for the 2018 draft but didn’t hire an agent and ultimately withdrew his name. This allowed him to retain his NCAA eligibility and return to Miami for what would be his junior year.

“After getting feedback from NBA teams and talking it over with my family and coaches, I would like to announce that I will be returning to Miami for my junior season,” Huell said in a statement in May, 2018.

However, as it turns out, Hernandez wasn’t able to return for his third year because he got caught up in the NCAA Division I men’s basketball scandal of 2017-18 where the NCAA determined that Hernandez had entered into an agreement with Christian Dawkins, a runner for NBA agent Andy Miller who was looking to start up his own agency at the time.

Hernandez was reportedly one of 19 players named by Dawkins in a business plan that would’ve seen Hernandez and others paid $500-$1,000 per month from September 2017 to April 2018.

However, there was no proof suggesting any payments were actually made nor that Hernandez had any direct knowledge of any such arrangement with Dawkins.

In the end, however, the circumstantial evidence surrounding Hernandez was enough for the NCAA to disqualify his eligibility, a decision that essentially forced him to declare for the 2019 NBA Draft in January.

Prep star

A Miami native, Hernandez attended Miami Norland High School before arriving on the U’s campus, and it’s during these formative years that you saw glimpses of NBA potential.

Hernandez won three state championships while at Miami Norland and was named a McDonald’s All-American in 2016 where he played with and competed with other future NBA players like Josh Jackson, Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum and De’Aaron Fox.

According to ESPN’s top 100 list for the class of 2016, Hernandez was listed as a five-star recruit, was No. 28 on the board overall, and the seventh-best power forward in high school hoops (he was six-foot-nine in high school and grew another couple inches in college).

Bit of a checkered past

Like everyone, Hernandez has some skeletons in his closet with none more publicly, and infamously, known than an incident in 2016.

Just before beginning his freshman year at Miami, Hernandez was arrested on charges of battery in a Florida International University dorm room.

From The Miami Herald:

According to a police report obtained by the Herald, Huell [sic], 19, barged into his ex-girlfriend Autum Williams’ dorm room at FIU’s West Dade campus at 4:20 p.m. Tuesday, and found her in the closet with male visitor Samuel J. Bailey. Police say Huell, who is listed as 6-10 and 220 pounds, grabbed Bailey by his shirt and “forcefully dragged him out of the room,” leaving him with scratches on his neck and chest.

Despite the incident, Hernandez wasn’t suspended by the team and played the entire season.

It’s true that 2016 was a little while ago, and the Raptors did actually bring Hernandez in for a pre-draft workout where they probably also interviewed him, but it’s still pretty interesting that Webster and Co. are willing to take a flyer on a player with a past like Hernandez’s.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.