Gonzaga center Filip Petrusev on Monday announced that he will be signing with a Serbian professional team and forgoing his final two years of eligibility.
Petrusev was an All-American last season that might have found himself as a preseason First Team All-American heading into the 2020-21 season had he opted to return to school. He led the Zags in scoring (17.5 points) and rebounding (7.9 boards) a season ago, winning WCC Player of the Year honors.
He will be signing with Mega Bemax, a club that is known for developing young talent. He has not yet withdrawn from the NBA draft, meaning that he could still get drafted, although his lack of perimeter skill and question marks defensively make that unlikely.
As weird as this may sound, I don’t think that this departure is going to hurt the Zags all that much. Rising sophomore Drew Timme is ready for a bigger role and, frankly, may be more talented than Petrusev. Oumar Ballo, who redshirted last season, is really talented and was terrific player in the U-19 World Championship last summer. I do think that those two, in the long run, will both end up being better basketball players than Petrusev, and they may be a better fit for this Gonzaga team already. Throw in the return of Anton Watson, who can play the four and will provide the Zags with some lineup versatility that they have lacked in recent years, and Mark Few still has a team capable of winning a national title.
Gonzaga is still awaiting the decision of two other underclassmen that have declared for the draft: Joel Ayayi and Corey Kispert. Kispert is probably the more likely of the two to hear his name called on draft night should he keep his name in the mix. I discussed the impact that these two will have on the Gonzaga roster in this column.