SPOKANE, Wash. — The deadline to declare for the NBA Draft is on April 26th at 8:59 PM. Gonzaga's Filip Petrusev is expected to declare some time this week, just like he declared last year.
Obviously last year, Petrusev came back to school. This year though, there is a lot more hype around the Serbian forward.
We asked CBS's Gary Parrish, ESPN's Sean Farnham, and Stadium's Jeff Goodman if Petrusev should stay in the draft or come back to Gonzaga for his junior season once the deadline to withdraw comes on June 3rd at 8:59 PM.
Q: Should Filip Petrusev stay in the NBA Draft when the deadline to withdraw comes or come back to Gonzaga?
Jeff Goodman: Everybody should declare. With the numbers he put up and what he did there’s no reason he shouldn’t test the waters. I think ultimately he comes back. He’s a guy that made such a significant jump last year that if he can make one more then you’re talking about potentially being a guy that can not only make a roster but have an investment. Have an NBA GM invest in him as a first round draft pick, get a guaranteed contract where he’ll be set for not just one contract but maybe for a career in the NBA.
Gary Parrish: You look at Filip’s situation specifically, unlikely to be a first round draft pick, at best a second round draft pick. You compare that to what happens if he decides to come back to school: Preseason first team All-American, legitimate National Player of the Year candidate, on what I believe should be the number one team in the country in the preseason. That’s a lot to walk away from. It doesn’t mean that he definitely shouldn’t. He should do what he wants to do. People always talk about the value of a professional contract and that’s a real thing. What's the value in a life experience like going to a Final Four, competing for a national championship, being the centerpiece of the best college basketball team in the country? That’s worth something too. Go talk to Anthony Davis and ask him what it was worth to him. Go talk to Carmelo Anthony and ask him what it was worth to him. It’s one thing when your options are be a first team All-American or go be the third pick in the draft. Well then, I understand. You probably need to go be the third pick in the draft, but he’s not picking between those two things. Again, he should do whatever he wants, but I’d like to think if I were him, I’d probably want to come back to school and do something really, really special.
Sean Farnham: First of all, I think it’s a great idea to declare and test the waters. I think he needs to get the feedback of where his game needs to grow. I’ve said this before, if he was playing when I was in college at UCLA, he’s a first round pick. But the game has evolved so much and it’s changed so much as far as what they expect bigs to do, the level of athleticism, and in particular the ability to show on ball defensively on screen situations. Then furthermore on the offensive end, consistently knock down perimeter shots. Those are not strengths right now of his game. I think he’d be much better served coming back and putting himself in the best situation to improve in those areas and also enjoy what should be an incredible season next year for Gonzaga. Allow himself to experience that and grow into the type of player that could better fit into the NBA style of play.
Q: Where does Filip need to improve the most?
Goodman: He can improve his perimeter shot, he can improve on the defensive end, he can get a little bit stronger. I still think there’s a lot of areas that he can improve. Talking to most NBA guys that I’ve talked to, they’ve said he’s probably a second round pick right now who can move his way up.
Parrish: What NBA people want more than anything right now of front court players is for them to be able to show two things: That you can guard in space and that you can stretch the floor. If you’re a front court player and cannot shoot from the perimeter and cannot guard in space, you get played off the court in that league now. This is the worst time in the history of professional basketball to be a big. He’s obviously an awesome college player, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot with the way the NBA game is played right now. If you want to really flourish in the NBA, you’ve got to be a versatile big these days. Obviously just improving in those areas—that’s the first place to start for literally every front court player in the America.
Farnham: I think where he needs to improve the most is that he needs to show better consistency and range in his offensive repertoire. It’s why I think Killian Tillie is the best prospect for the NBA because he has that ability with his size to step out and make NBA three point shots. Now, Filip doesn’t have to make NBA three-point shots, but you have to remember a college three-point shot is a mid-range jump shot in the NBA. If you’re not comfortable there on a consistent basis, and obviously I’ve called a bunch of Zags games this year and I saw him be able to take those shots, but he has to do it with better confidence. He has to be able to catch and take you off the bounce and create a little bit more off the bounce. He’s so dominant and his footwork is so great down on the block, but the NBA doesn’t really play that much through the post anymore. He has to improve there on the offensive end. Defensively, I think he has to improve in his lateral quickness. That means better ability to show on ball screens. I don’t mean this in disrespect to anyone that he plays all season long but whether he’s switching out on Nico Mannion or Jordan Ford, who are really, really, really outstanding college basketball players and Nico’s going to be pro, they’re not Steph Curry, they’re not Chris Paul, they’re not Russell Westbrook, they’re not James Harden. This is the reality of when you make that step.
Q: Where does Gonzaga stand to begin the season in terms of rankings if Filip leaves for the NBA?
Parrish: I would assume that they drop without their best player. Most teams would. It’s not like they’re the obvious undeniable candidate to be the number one team in the country. I would assume without Filip Gonzaga drops a little bit, but not too far. I think no matter what he does they’re probably a preseason top 10 team.
Farnham: I think if Filip doesn’t return, they’re still the number one team in the country. I think it’s less than obviously if he would return. You look at this recruiting class and people forget a couple pieces redshirting this year that are going to be very valuable components for Mark Few’s program. In particular, Anton Watson, who went out with a shoulder injury. He’s going to be back. He was playing some great basketball prior to his injury, and I think his growth would have only continued. As soon as he’s able to practice again and going full time and getting back to reps with the team the rust will come off. You look at the rest of this lineup, it’s a team on paper that right now is the number one team in the country entering college basketball next year.
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