Filip Petrusev has played his last game in a Gonzaga uniform.
Petrusev, who declared for the NBA draft in April, is joining Mega Bemax, a professional team in his hometown of Belgrade, according to Serbian media company nova.rs. The 6-foot-11 forward informed Gonzaga’s coaching staff Monday morning that he wasn’t returning for his junior season.
Petrusev’s departure is a blow to the frontcourt, but Gonzaga returns multiple inside options, led by rising sophomore Drew Timme. Still, the Zags, projected as a national-championship contender and possibly the preseason No. 1, lose a low-block force and one of the nation’s top post players last season.
Petrusev’s decision isn’t a big surprise on several fronts, including the rising concern about the return of college athletics this fall and winter due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.
Petrusev, despite a highly decorated sophomore season, wasn’t listed in most NBA two-round mock drafts and analysts questioned if his paint-oriented style would fit in a league that values forwards and centers who can space the floor and defend smaller players.
When he declared for the draft, Petrusev said it was his dream to play at the highest level but he was open to returning to GU as well as consider other options.
“There is still a lot of uncertainty with what might happen to next year’s NCAA season, as well as the NBA draft,” Petrusev said in April, roughly six weeks after the coronavirus outbreak canceled the NCAA men’s tournament. “This gives me more time to evaluate that and leaves all the options open.”
Petrusev’s production — team-leading average of 17.5 points and 7.9 rebounds — was rewarded with recognition on at least seven All-America teams. He was a Wooden Award All-American and a finalist for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award.
The 6-foot-10 Timme averaged 9.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and shot a team-high 62.1% from the field as a freshman. He played his best basketball in the second half of the season.
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