Greg Hernandez made an impact on the Maryville College court for four years. Now, he’s making a major impact on the courts of England.
As a senior at Maryville College in 2009-2010, the 6-foot-6-inch center played a major role in the Scots’ success. Averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds per game, Hernandez was the first Fighting Scot since the 2003 to average a double-double over the course of an entire season.
Now, Hernandez is playing for the RCT Gladiators from Wales, where his height is helping him on the floor.
“Our team has lots of good guards, but we lack size and an inside scoring threat with back-to-the-basket ability,” said Steve Williams, head coach of the Gladiators. “Greg provides us with this threat and obviously his rebounding ability. That plus the fact that he works very hard [on] both ends of the court suits our team.”
Hernandez’s play has improved, as he’s leading his team with 35 points and 17 rebounds per game, and the Gladiators have opened the season 5-1 in their league.
This improved play, Hernandez says, comes from his time at MC.
“[MC head coach Randy] Lambert taught me the little things that it takes to be successful,” Hernandez said. “Playing in a conference that didn’t have an automatic bid meant that we were going to travel to play the best opponents we can to help bolster our tournament resume. Playing difficult schedules all throughout school helped prepare me to play against the best competition.”
While the Scots have had to fight for their position in NCAA tournaments, Lambert says that it is Hernandez’s work and attitude that has helped him excel on the court. Losing 60 pounds between his sophomore and junior seasons, Hernandez was able to improve his game, which Lambert said helped him be an inspirational leader.
“He worked so hard that he led by example,” the Maryville coach said. “He did an exceptional job of getting himself basketball ready. He’s one of these guys that’s a relentless worker … It’s paid off for him.”
Already this season, Hernandez’s first in professional basketball, he’s managed two 40-point games, one with 44 and the other with 42.
In his first-ever professional game, he managed a 30-30 performance, scoring more than 30 points and bringing down over 30 rebounds.
That’s impressive, considering Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love’s 30-30 performance a year ago against the New York Knicks was the first of its type in 28 years in the NBA.
Hernandez attributes his gaudy numbers to playing 40 minutes per ballgame.
However, Williams says that it is Greg’s attitude toward the game that has helped him prosper as the leading scorer in all six of the Gladiators’ games this season.
“Greg has made a big impact on the team because, as well as his scoring and rebounding, his work ethic and ‘never-say-die’ attitude is what this team is all about,” Williams said. “Not only does he fit in as a player, but his personality suits the team and the environment very well.”
As the leader for the English Basketball League team, Hernandez has scored almost 44 percent of the Gladiators’ points. In fact, Hernandez leads all Division 2 EBL players in scoring average by 10 points, according to the English Basketball website.
Carrying that responsibility is something Hernandez is proud of.
“I enjoy being the leader of the team, as I loving having the responsibility of knowing that the team counts on me and expects a lot from me on a game-to-game basis,” Hernandez said. “Coach Lambert instilled a lot of responsibility in me my last two years at Maryville, and it has helped me carry it over to basketball in England.”
Lambert said that this success came as no surprise.
“I felt like he was ready, but I didn’t think he would have quite the impact that he’s having,” Lambert said. “It doesn’t surprise me. He’s a competitor, and he understands the game. I knew he would fit in well with any team.”