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Noah Fernandes discusses his decision to come to Rutgers



Photo credit Rutgers Athletics

A little more than a week after news broke that UMass transfer Noah Fernandes was coming to Rutgers, the program formally announced his arrival.

“We are thrilled to welcome Noah Fernandes to The Knighthood,” Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell said in a press release. “Noah brings a wealth of experience, excitement, an ability to really shoot the basketball and a great understanding of the game. He’s going to add a whole new dimension to our backcourt. He can really defend too. We’re excited to add another great family. Rutgers Nation, you are going to love him.”

The 5’11” guard is a dynamic offensive player who can take big shots while creating scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates. Fernandes is a quick, shifty guard who can score in multiple ways. He gives Rutgers an experienced lead guard who can be a primary ballhandler. Fernandes’ ability to give the offense a much needed jolt next season makes him a tremendous addition.

In 2021-2022, Fernandes led UMass with 14.9 points, 5.3 assists, 1.4 steals and 33.6 minutes per game. Fernandes was No. 37 nationally with a 32.4% assist rate and was No. 344 in shooting 79.0% from the foul line. He also shot 48.1% from two and 36.0% from three.

This past season, Fernandes was limited to just 11 games due to an ankle injury. Before missing the final two months of the season, he averaged 13.1 points on 50.0% shooting from two-point range and 45.2% from three-point range.

“The past two years I have been the decision-maker and the scorer,” Fernandes said. “Sometimes when you are younger that’s what you dream of and that’s what you want to do in college basketball. For me, I’ve always won, and I took that for granted. The last few years have been tough on me not winning.”

The Mattapoisett, Massachusetts native made it clear that was the ultimate factor in choosing Rutgers. Fernandes had a scheduled visit to Butler that he cancelled and was being pursued by multiple high major programs.

“I chose Rutgers because of the winning culture that Coach Pikiell has built,” Fernandes said. “It’s so exciting to join a program that has had so much success. I am just excited to get down there and play in front of the fans and get it rocking.”

He added, “I just really want to come to Rutgers and get back to winning. I want to get to the tournament and that’s all I want to do. It’s all I think about. It’s my last year and I want to go dancing.”

In addition to the opportunity that the program provides on the court, Fernandes explained the importance of the culture and the community that exists in his decision to chose Rutgers.

“For me it was so great to meet Coach Pikiell, Coach (Brandin) Knight and the rest of the staff,” Fernandes said. “I just had a son and I wanted to make sure we were coming to a great area. I also just wanted to play at the highest level and think Rutgers provided my family with both of those opportunities.”

Fans will remember Fernandes for his role in delivering a crushing loss to RU during the 2021-2022. He hit a buzzer beating three in Amherst to complete a brutal three game losing streak for Rutgers against DePaul, Lafayette, and UMass. Fortunately, the team turned it around and made the NCAA Tournament. The good news is that game left an impression on Fernandes and he cited it as part of why he ultimately became a Scarlet Knight.

“It was an opportunity that you wanted to embrace against a high-level team,” Fernandes said. “I was lucky to have the ending to it of course. Having played against Rutgers and knowing a few guys that played against me in that game for the program played a part in my decision.”

One player in particular who Noah spoke with is Geo Baker. The former face of the program is now tremendous alumni ambassador for Rutgers basketball. Baker made his pitch to Fernandes on why he should join the program. The player with the second most assists in RU history made yet another off the court in recruiting another high level guard to Piscataway.

“I talked to Geo a little bit before and after the visit,” Fernandes said. “Just because he’s from the New England area and going to the tournaments growing up and watching him play. I didn’t think he was going to have any bad things to say, and he didn’t. He’s one of the greatest players to every play at Rutgers and I wanted to hear what he had to say. Just having that conversation and having that relationship with him meant a lot.”

Next season’s roster is taking shape. With Cam Spencer and Derek Simpson returning, the addition of athletic freshman Jamichael Davis along with Paul Mulcahy still potentially coming back, the Rutgers backcourt is in really good shape with Fernandes now included. The Scarlet Knights needed a true scoring threat. A guard who can attack the rim off the dribble and find open teammates. They got that and then some in Fernandes. Credit the coaching staff for addressing a major need by getting a high impact player.

“They are getting a gritty, tough player who is going to come to compete every night and make winning plays,” Fernandes said. “Hopefully we can get the crowd rocking and making some exciting plays at Jersey Mike’s Arena.”

Amen to that. Rutgers fans should be very excited about the addition of Fernandes and his ability to help the program return to the NCAA Tournament next season.

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  1. thevinman

    April 24, 2023 at 11:29 am

    He came because of the winning culture coach Pikiell has built. Just say those words and savor them to remind yourself of what a great job coach Pikiell has done.

  2. InPikeWeTrust

    April 24, 2023 at 11:37 am

    Seems like another perfect fit for this program. I can’t wait to watch him and Simpson fly up the court with shooters like Cam, Andre and Mulcahy spotting up and making wide-open 3’s.

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