He leads the last remaining undefeated team in the state. He fills up the box score with lines resembling those of LeBron James or Rajon Rondo on a regular basis. He stands at 5-foot-7. Who could this be?
He is none other than Wareham’s Darien Fernandez, arguably the MIAA’s biggest surprise of the season.
Fernandez has had an unbelievably productive year for Wareham, a team that began the season unranked in many polls, and has been proving those who slept on him wrong for doing so. Wednesday night at Taunton High, the Vikings face Cardinal Spellman in a Division 3 South semifinal. When these two teams met back in December, Fernandez went off for 36 points in a Wareham victory -- could a repeat performance be on tap?
For those who have not seen him, here is a breakdown of his game:
This footage from Wareham’s victory over Old Rochester Regional and is courtesy of Wareham assistant coach Colbey Santos. In this game, Fernandez had a near quadruple-double with 36 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds, and eight steals.
Fernandez’s best skill is his ability to shoot the ball. He is at his best off of the dribble, but also shows the ability to catch-and-shoot almost equally well. He has deep range on his shot and is definitely not afraid to pull the trigger.
As seen from the clips, Fernandez has the ability to make some ridiculous shots. This confidence allows Fernandez to make shots that a video game player would envy. His ability to change speeds also helps his off-the-dribble shooting. In the last two clips, Fernandez uses a quick crossover multiple times to get enough space to put it in the basket.
Fernandez’s shooting is particularly interesting because he does not shoot with traditional form. Sometimes those kinds of players are the best shooters. Watch his free-throw form:
The way Fernandez flicks his wrist is a bit unconventional, but it is hard to complain with his results.
Nose For the Ball
Having the ability to steal and rebound the ball the way Fernandez does is an invaluable to a team. He helps his team gain extra possessions because of his nose for the ball. Statistics show that a team with the most possessions typically wins a game and this is most likely the reason why Wareham has been so successful.
All undersized guards should try to develop a nose for the ball like Fernandez. Being undersized is undoubtedly a disadvantage but if you have a motor and desire to get the ball like Fernandez, size will not matter.
Fernandez does not only do a bulk of the scoring for his team, but he commands the offense and gets good look for his teammates. He is not flashy and makes the easy pass. That is the sign of a mature player.
Forcing the Issue
Fernandez may seem like a perfect player and this performace was nearly perfect, but there are definitely things he needs to work on. The main thing would be better decision making, which will come with more experience.
In these clips, Fernandez forces the issue a bit. Since he is the go-to player for Wareham, some of these mistakes or unreasonable shots were excusable. Think about it like Kobe Bryant for the Lakers. Kobe is allowed to take wild shots because he is their leader and main scoring option. The same goes for Fernandez.
Fernandez is an aggressive scoring guard with an excellent feel for the game. He uses his quickness to break down defenders and forces defenses to guard him from everywhere on the court with his unlimited range. Obviously, this one game was simply a sample of his whole season (and undoubtedly one of his best performances), but there’s no denying that Fernandez is an up-and-comer that MIAA fans should keep their eye on.