Valparaiso already looked like one of the best mid-major teams in the country heading into next season, and they got better on Thursday.
The school announced that Vashil Fernandez was granted an extra year of eligibility, meaning that the 6-foot-10 center and reigning Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year will be back with the Crusaders in 2015-16. He averaged 6.9 points, 5.9 boards and 2.9 blocks for one of the nation’s stingiest defenses.
“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.”
As a freshman, Fernandez was declared ineligible for the year and lost a season of eligibility as well. The NCAA recently allowed for schools to appeal those rulings, and Valpo won their appeal.
Fernandez’s return put Valpo at 14 scholarship players, although incoming freshman Daniel Relvao is no longer listed on the team’s roster on the Athletics website.