What more could Maryville College senior Greg Hernandez ask for while averaging 28 minutes per game, leading the team in points and rebounds and reaching the 1000-point mark, becoming only the 15th Scot in school history to do so?
How about averaging a double-double for the season?
In many eyes, it’s the mixture for an All-American season in the making.
The 6-foot-6 center from Miami has stepped up big for the Scots (18-4, 3-1 Great South Athletic Conference). In 21 games, Hernandez has accomplished 10 double-doubles, missing the double-dib on five occasions by only a single rebound.
The only Maryville player to average a double-double for the season this decade is former Scot Josh Tummel, who accomplished the rare feat during the 2000-2001 season. Tummel finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds, but Hernandez, thus far, has well surpassed that mark. Averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds per game, Hernandez has been the backbone of the Scots this season.
“He’s had a great year,” Maryville coach Randy Lambert said. “He’s a major reason that we’ve had the type of year that we’ve had up to this point.”
That’s proving true with Hernandez pulling down 24 percent of Maryville’s rebounds this season, along with bucketing 23 percent of the Scots’ points. An all-court contributor, his 36 assists, 24 steals and 22 blocks on the year are nothing to sneeze at, either.
One of the things Hernandez claims helps him get those numbers has been the weight he has shed during his Maryville career, the results of which have proven a revelation in all respects.
At the end of his sophomore season, Hernandez weighed 275 pounds. He had exceptional touch around the basket, but, as a defender, his size was a hindrance in running the floor. His numbers in 27 games played that season included averages of 5.9 points and 3.3 rebounds per contest.
That would all soon change.
In only five months following that sophomore season, Hernandez returned to Maryville 60 pounds lighter, reporting for fall practice at a trim 215 pounds. Credit for it all, he said, is due a strict exercise and diet plan he’d enacted over that summer. As a junior last season, Hernandez took off.
Hernandez said he worked out three times a day, six days a week, to shed the pounds. Most of his focus, he said, was on agility instead of the typical basketball workout.
“Sand training, with a weight vest, took it to another level,” Hernandez said. “Everything was pushed to the limit. That’s what helped me lose my weight, get faster, get stronger and get bigger.”
With a quicker, lighter frame, the numbers improved dramatically for Hernandez as a junior. His scoring took a Wall Street-size bounce, climbing to 16.1 points per game. He very nearly finished the year averaging the double-double, raking off 8.5 rebounds per night. From the field, Maryville’s svelte new Scot was hitting on better than 55 percent of his shots.
Since the improved conditioning and diet worked so well as a junior, Hernandez has steamed full speed with the regimen into this his senior season, placing an even greater emphasis on preparing his own food to better control how he fuels his engine.
The menu remains much the same during the basketball season. For breakfast, Hernandez said it’s usually egg whites, a banana and a glass of milk. Lunch and dinner follow the same, disciplined line of thinking, consisting primarily of salad and chicken.
“On occasion, I would go out to eat, and I’d treat myself,” Hernandez said. “However, I always made sure that I wasn’t eating badly back to back. If I ate a bad meal, the next one was going to be good.”
Hernandez said cooking his own food was a much better idea because he would only cook what he knew he would eat. Proffitt Dinning Room at Maryville had so much food, he said, it was a constant battle not to continue to keep going back for more, even though he thought he was full.
Next, Hernandez said, was cutting out sweets.
“I’ve changed from brownies and cookies to yogurt and granolas,” he said.
When Maryville’s “Cooper (Athletic Center) Crazies” returned for the ‘08-’09 season, they saw a big difference in what No. 50 could do. Sixty pounds lighter, Hernandez doubled his playing time. With guards Eryk Watson (19.0 points), Jordan Damron (10.6) and Wes Lambert (10.2) joining Hernandez, a young Maryville team rolled to a 20-7 finish and an NCAA tournament appearance by seasons end.
“I’ve had a lot of good players over the years, but I’ve not had anybody that has worked as hard as he has to develop his game,” Lambert said. “I challenged him as a freshman and told him that he needed to lose 25 to 30 pounds, and he did it.
“He’s sculpted his body and turned it into an ideal, low-post frame. He’s got the width, the strength and the lower body that you need to be effective against big players. That just shows how dedicated he is.”
The challenge Lambert issued prior to the season to join Tummel in the double-double club is a big reason why, Hernandez said.
“It was something that coach Lambert and I talked about,” he said. “That’s what our goal was, to average a double-double and contend for all-region and stuff like that.
“I think it’s cool with having only one person done it. I know he needs a little company. Hopefully, I can continue playing the way I am and still finish strong.”