Valparaiso Crusaders center Vashil Fernandez has been granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA and will return to the defending Horizon League champions next season. Rob Dauster of NBC Sports’ College Basketball Talk reported the NCAA’s decision.
Fernandez and Crusaders head men’s basketball coach Bryce Drew offered brief statements on the ruling.
“I am excited to be back and I am excited to see all the good things that God has in store for me, my family and the Valpo basketball program over the next year,” said Fernandez, who has already earned an undergraduate and master’s degree from Valpo, in a statement.
“Vashil has made a huge impact on our campus since his arrival,” head coach Bryce Drew added. “He is as good an example of a student-athlete as can be found anywhere in the country. Our basketball program and Valparaiso University are elated to have him back.”
Fernandez is the reigning Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year and will return thanks to an appeal he made regarding his losing a year of eligibility after he was ruled ineligible his freshman season. In three years with the Crusaders, he has averaged 4.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game while shooting 57 percent from the field. Last season, he had a career year when he averaged 6.9 points, 5.9 boards and 2.9 blocks per contest.
His presence contributed to Valparaiso playing aggressive on-ball defense and having one of the toughest defensive units in the nation. The Crusaders made the NCAA Tournament as a No. 13 seed and suffered a controversial loss to No. 4 Maryland in the Round of 64.
With Fernandez coming back, look for the Crusaders to make some noise again in the 2015-16 season.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to Valpo Athletics