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Jovanovic and Filipovich leaving UH

  • TONY AVELAR / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER

    Hawaii guard Niko Filipovich celebrated with coach Eran Ganot a win at UC Davis on March 3.

Two more Hawaii basketball players have decided to move on following the team’s special season.

Reserves Stefan Jovanovic and Niko Filipovich, high school teammates before they played together at UH, are going their separate ways.

A few hours after Filipovich told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser he is calling it a career after three seasons in Manoa, Jovanovic said in a phone interview he will transfer to Loyola Marymount of the West Coast Conference.

The 6-foot-11 Jovanovic served as UH’s backup center for the past three seasons. He averaged 4.9 points and 4.0 rebounds in appearing off the bench in every game in 2015-16.

The Serbian said he made the move because of the NCAA postseason ban in place on UH for 2017. Under NCAA bylaws for postseason bans, he can transfer elsewhere for his senior year without the usual penalty of having to sit out games for a season.

“We don’t have the postseason anymore, and the wish to go to the NCAA Tournament again, I can try it,” Jovanovic said. “Here I’ve had an amazing experience and all that. This year has been really special, but I think it’s the best decision right now for me.”

LMU went 14-17 in the recently completed season. The Lions were seventh in the WCC under coach Mike Dunlap.

Filipovich, a third-year sophomore, appeared sparingly as a backup point guard over the past two seasons. He said he will transfer to a Los Angeles school to complete his undergraduate degree but doesn’t intend to play basketball again.

Jovanovic and Filipovich were teammates at Bishop Montgomery High in Southern California. They are the third and fourth players to depart the Rainbow Warriors early — top scorers Stefan Jankovic and Aaron Valdes announced decisions to turn professional.

Forward Mike Thomas is the only member of UH’s junior class to announce he will return coming off the team’s 28-6 season and NCAA Tournament appearance. The only other scholarship players slated to return are guard Sheriff Drammeh and forward Jack Purchase.

UH coach Eran Ganot said in a message: “These are tough decisions. We know how much these guys appreciate Hawaii and their experience here. Stefan is another terrific kid and we wish him the best. He understands the value of being a student-athlete. He was obviously a factor in our success. All these guys will be remembered fondly for their efforts.

“Wishing Niko all the best as he embarks on a new adventure. There is no doubt that he will be successful in whatever path he chooses due his work ethic, intelligence, and determination.”

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  • Mahalo to them both and continued success for their future. Well now we have two more scholarships available plus 4 more minus 2 for the NCAA penalty. We need some 6’9 and above type players that are willing to bang on the inside. This wil be a developmental year.

    • UH should also sue the NCAA for damages if the ban is lifted because Jovanovich wuld have stayed with no ban. There’s no reason for the NCAA to take so long to make a decision.

    • The program is done. But in the end, who cares? These players had little to do with or loyalty to the UH or the community. They were traveling athletes for hire. Please invest you7r time and money in UH academics!

  • With all the players leaving early, it just proves that there is something very wrong with the message the HC was preaching to them. The appeal is still pending so take Stefan’s excuse with a grain of salt. And there are no bigs that have committed to UH with the high school signing deadline coming up this month. Enjoy what the boys did now, its not going to happen again next year. Right now they don’t have enough players for a full scrimmage.

  • Well, now that the team has been gutted like a fish, and the NCAA has accomplished the punishment it intended despite whether there will still be a ban or not, let’s see if Ganot can still sell the program to additional quality recruits.

    If I were a JC player with only 2 years left, knowing the ban might still be in place and the questionable quality of teammates I might be playing with, it would be a hard sell. It is better to go after high school recruits that can see the possibility of success in their latter years of eligibility. They may even be redshirted to further this, so we will probably take our lumps next year no matter what, with reduced talent and even less depth.

    Instead of having a team that would have likely gone deep into the NCAA tourney next year, what are we left with, who knows? This will test the mettle of Ganot and if he is as good as he appears, hopefully, he will make the best moves possible under the circumstances.

    • With four out of their five starters gone, as well as losing two of their best players off the bench, Ganot will have to rebuild this team from the ground up. So I would definitely go after high school recruits and promise them that if they are half way decent, they will be able to start for a D-1 team as true freshman. How many teams who made it to the NCAA tournament this year can make such a promise? Go Warriors!

  • Well, if the NCAA was trying to make an example out of UH and take them down – job well done. This has essentially become a death penalty for the program.

  • Sad to see these two go, they always gave 100% on the court and seem to have fun on the bench … Wishing you guys the best in your futures !!! Good luck !

  • This is unfortunate…even more kudos to Mike Thomas for showing loyalty to the UH ohana! Too bad Stefan and Niko didn’t want to step up and be leaders for next year! Post-season play (except to conf tourney) is a rarity for UH, so they’d only be missing out on three games if the ban stands. So much for playing for your brothers in green! Ok, HI5-O…you guys are gonna get ur chance…work hard and make us proud!

  • the picture is clear now. thomas is staying, don’t be surprised about redshirting next year. with that said, true fans will be patient next year while rebuilding.

  • Bad move for Javonovic. He would’ve been a starter at UH and a BMOC. At Loyola he’s going to be a nobody, not even guaranteed to get lots of playing time.

  • Best wishes for players that are leaving the program. You gave us a historic season for UH Basketball that will always be remembered. Time for everyone to stay positive and support the program as it rebuilds for the future.

  • bad decision for Jovanovich. LMU isn’t going to the post season. Stefan would have been the starter if he had stayed. its not like he is so good that he will be starting somewhere else. don’t understand what he is thinking. whatever, goood luck guys.

  • Now that the dust has cleared, I hope Ganot and his coaches are contacting prospective recruits about playing for UH; I mean they must have had some idea of players they would have to replace. I am pleased with the guard replacements, but it’s no longer a question about needing tall timber.

    • I noticed that UH is not the only one trying to recruit from down under. I think the shopping isle’ been pretty much picked clean already.
      Looks like UH will need to see who’s available on the west coast, from Canada on down through California.

    • Check the web, UH only has 3 open offers for players for next season, and only for 1 big, a so-so JUCO. UH has at least 6 open spots. See Verbalcommits and scout.com HS signing ends maybe on the 20th and UH isn’t even close to filling the spots. Obviously they are trying but recruits apparently just aren’t interested in playing for Ganot otherwise they would show up on the sites.

  • Not to ask a stupid question but how is he going to the tournament with a team that went 14-17? Is he, as a backup center going to make that much of a difference to send them to the tourney? Lame excuse IMO but his life and career.

  • Not to ask a stpid question but how is he going to the tournament with a team that went 14-17? Is he, as a backup center going to make that much of a difference to send them to the tourney? He’d start at UH, and warm Loyola’s bench. No post season is lame excuse IMO but his life and career.

  • 2 principle people are involved in departures, the HC and the player. Here’s what we know
    — the HC received numerous awards; albeit, for a team he did not recruit.
    — that all the players enjoyed playing here. (Several said they may return someday)
    — that missing the NCAAs was not a deal breaker (the players did not go to the NCAAs until last season)
    — that only 1 of the players left after learning about the NCAA ban
    — 9 players are departing or have departed (4 exhausted their eligibility, 2 turned pro, 3 for other reasons)
    — curiously not one of the departing players acknowledged the HC (except for discussing their departure)
    Amicable as all the departures have been, one cannot help but wonder if HC wants to recruit his own players.

    • You are just a ray of sunshine. Like in your other posting…questing that Eran didn’t make his players feel wanted. It’s laughable. If the players didn’t like Eran no way this team wins as much as they did this year.

      One cannot help but wonder if you’re simply trying to make something out of nothing. Which is your right…but rather lame.

    • Add to that an intentionally weak schedule that was arranged by the AD to help him “ease” into his first coaching job, and a conference with a bottom 3rd strength of schedule. Don’t think Ganot wanted to recruit his own players but he obviously showed favoritism to his recruit Drammeh prompting one to leave early. Even if that was so, 2 years to recruit your own players is adequate time so next year will tell if he’s for real or another one that won’t last here (and how many HCs have we gone through in a decade?)

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