When he wasn’t extended an invitation to play in the annual all-star game at the Division III Final Four, Greg Hernandez said he got a little down on himself.
Two days later, the Maryville College senior sitting on top of the world.
Capping a season where the Miami native would become the first Scot in a decade to average a double-double for the season, Hernandez was named to the 2010 State Farm Coaches’ Division III All-America Team, as selected by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
In leading the Great South Athletic Conference champion Scots to a 23-5 finish and a 12th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, the 6-foot-6 Hernandez averaged 19.6 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. Hernandez is the third Scot in Maryville coach Randy Lambert’s 30 seasons at the helm to finish the season with an All-American selection, joining former Scots Sidney Ellis (2004 and 2005) and Bobby Golden (2007).
“I was mad the day before because I didn’t make the all-star game,” Hernandez said. “I told coach Lambert I didn’t make it. He called me the next day, and I said, ‘I wonder what he’s calling me about.’”
Same thing he would be calling about three days later.
Three days following the State Farm selection, Hernandez, away on spring break, received another phone call from his coach. This time, Lambert was calling to inform the Great South Player of the Year that D3hoops.com had named the Maryville center to its All-American team as well.
“I was speechless,” Hernandez said. “I couldn’t believe it. I said, ‘Are you serious!”
Hernandez, who weighed in at a robust 275 pounds as a sophomore, is believed to be the first Scot to be named to two All-American teams in the same season.
“I’m extremely happy for him because of all the effort he put in toward his progress,” Lambert said. “To think about where he started and to look at him now at the finish, I don’t know that I’ve ever had a player improve as drastically as he has.
“There were a lot of people his freshman year that thought he was wasting his time and my time, too.”
Hernandez, who, through an improved diet and an aggressive, offseason workout schedule, had trimmed his weight to 215 pounds by his junior year, made good on better than 60 percent of his shots during the 2009-2010 season, connecting at 79 percent from the free-throw line. In becoming the first Scot since Josh Tummel (2000-2001) to average a double-double for the season, Hernandez reached double figures in points and rebounds 12 times this winter.
“He’d gotten so much quicker and so explosive in a two-year period of time, I felt he could be a really good rebounder,” Lambert said. “He was getting balls coming off the rim I’d never seen him get to.
“He was motivated. He wanted to prove people wrong.
Maryville saw its season end with a first-round loss to John Carroll, but not before the Scots finished the year leading the nation with 19 assists per game. Hernandez, Lambert said, was a big part of the why.
“The reason we led the country in that statistic is we were getting the ball in to Greg,” he said. “When it’s a big man that gets (an All-American selection), it’s a team award.”
Hernandez echoes the sentiment.
“I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” he said. “I don’t make All-American without my teammates.”
That said, Hernandez is much deserving of his All-American double dip, Lambert said.
“To watch Greg work and prepare and to see where he is today is very satisfying,” he said. “It hasn’t come easy for him or me. There have been times where we were face to face, nose to nose, with me pushing him. He’s what happens when you put fourth the time and effort into it, and this (the All-American selections) is the reward.”