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.”