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Gonzaga Basketball
Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Gonzaga’s Filip Petrusev declares for draft without hiring an agent

UPDATED: Sun., April 26, 2020

Gonzaga’s Filip Petrusev (center) celebrates as confetti rains down after the Zags’ victory over Saint Mary’s in the WCC Tournament title game. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga’s Filip Petrusev (center) celebrates as confetti rains down after the Zags’ victory over Saint Mary’s in the WCC Tournament title game. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Filip Petrusev has become the third Gonzaga Bulldog to declare for the NBA draft without hiring an agent.

Petrusev made it official on Sunday, the deadline for players to declare. He joins wing Corey Kispert and guard Joel Ayayi on the early-entry list. It’s the second time around for Petrusev, who submitted his name for the draft after seeing limited minutes as a freshman.

“It is my dream to one day play at the highest level so I am entering the 2020 NBA draft, but I am still considering a return to Gonzaga,” Petrusev said in a school release. “There is still a lot of uncertainty with what might happen to next year’s NCAA season as well as the NBA draft, this gives me more time to evaluate that and leave all the options open.

“I am not hiring an agent and will work directly with Coach (Mark) Few and (assistant coach Tommy) Lloyd to make the best decision for my future, staying eligible for the NCAA. Love you, Zag Nation!”

Petrusev made big strides last season after playing behind Rui Hachimura, Brandon Clarke and Killian Tillie in 2019, leading the Zags in scoring (17.5 points per game) and rebounding (7.9 per game).

The 6-foot-11, 235-pound native of Serbia was named the WCC player of the year and made numerous All-America teams.

Petrusev was one of the best frontcourt players in the country last season, but there are questions about how his game translates at the next level. NBA teams typically pursue bigs who can stretch the court, provide rim protection and still be able to defend on the perimeter.

Tillie is generally considered Gonzaga’s top draft prospect, usually followed by Kispert. Petrusev doesn’t appear in most two-round mock drafts. He’s No. 60 in ESPN.com’s top 100, No. 65 in CBSsports.com’s top 75 and No. 94 in The Athletic’s top 100.

“He’s kind of an old-school big and that makes it difficult in the modern game,” ESPN’s Sean Farnham told The Spokesman-Review late in the regular season. “If he was playing when I was playing (at UCLA) in the early 2000s, he would have been a top-15 pick, but the game has evolved.

“Your footwork and ability to defend ball screens becomes more important at the next level. I would say he’s probably a step slow.”

The deadline for players to withdraw from the draft is June 3.

Petrusev was one of five finalists for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar center of the year award. He shot 56.2% from the field, posted eight double-doubles and reached double figures in 31 of 33 games.

Petrusev applied heavy foul pressure on opponents, drawing 7.8 fouls per 40 minutes. His 238 free throw attempts ranked fourth nationally.

If Petrusev decides to remain in the draft, the Zags have several young bigs on the roster, led by 6-10 Drew Timme, who averaged 9.8 points and 5.4 rebounds as a freshman, and 6-8 Anton Watson, whose promising freshman season was cut short by a shoulder injury.

Rising sophomore Pavel Zakharov played 85 minutes in 19 appearances last season. Oumar Ballo sat out last year as an academic redshirt.

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