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Gonzaga’s Filip Petrusev submits name for NBA Draft, but plans on returning to school

Gonzaga forward Filip Petrusev maneuvers near the basket against Pepperdine’s Andre Ball in a Feb. 21 game at the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga forward Filip Petrusev maneuvers near the basket against Pepperdine’s Andre Ball in a Feb. 21 game at the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Add another name to Gonzaga’s list of underclassmen entering the NBA Draft.

Freshman forward Filip Petrusev has submitted his name, a school spokesperson confirmed. The 6-foot-11, 225-pound native of Serbia indicated to Gonzaga’s staff that he wants to go through the pre-draft process but plans on returning for his sophomore season.

Petrusev is the fifth Zag to declare in the last week, joining Rui Hachimura, Brandon Clarke, Zach Norvell Jr. and Killian Tillie. Sunday was the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft.

All five are eligible to return to Gonzaga, but most anticipate Hachimura and Clarke remaining in the draft as projected first-round picks. Norvell’s and Tillie’s situations aren’t as straightforward with neither typically listed in mock drafts.

It appears Petrusev wants to experience the work-out process and receive feedback on his game from NBA executives. He is expected to sign with an agent. The new rules permit players to hire an agent but they can return to school if they cut ties with the agent by May 29. Under the old system, players who hired an agent weren’t able to return to school.

Petrusev saw most of his playing time last season when Tillie was sidelined by ankle surgery for the first two months and again in February when Tillie missed the last month with a partially torn plantar fascia.

Petrusev scored in double figures in five of Gonzaga’s first seven games, including an 11-point effort against Duke in the Maui Invitational title game. He scored seven points against North Carolina and five versus Tennessee in Phoenix.

He played in 32 of 37 games, averaging 11.4 minutes. He made 55.4% from the field, including 9 of 30 (30%) beyond the arc. He hit 85.3% at the free-throw line. He averaged 6.5 points and 2.7 rebounds with a season-high 15 points in a 94-46 rout over Saint Mary’s in early February.

Petrusev should have a major role with the Zags next season if he returns as expected, even if Tillie opts to come back for his senior season. Petrusev was a contributor on a NCAA Tournament championship contender and he saw time against several of college basketball’s top teams. He showed an ability to score but has room to improve defensively.

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