Oakland center in waiting Ilija Multinovic announced Friday he won't be returning to Oakland for his senior season, opting instead to play professionally in Europe. The decision was made for "personal" reasons, according to press release.
The Golden Grizzlies, repeat Summit League champions, lost center Keith Benson to graduation and likely to the NBA when the the league's draft takes place next week.
"It's really hard when you're playing behind Keith Benson," Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. "He would have made more progress if he was able to play. ... Who's going to play behind an NBA draft choice? I'm not saying Ilija couldn't have been an NBA pick if he had gotten to play as much. We couldn't play them together and Will Hudson was there, too."
Kampe felt Milutinovic was poised for a breakout season, in part because Kampe expected Milutinovic to play 30-35 minutes per game. That could've landed him in a higher-profile league.
"He would've ended up in one of the Euro leagues where he can make a lot of money because he's 7 feet tall," Kampe said.
Milutinovic, who has played sparingly in his career, was going to be counted on heavily in the post by Oakland. The Grizzlies have another 7-footer in Kyle Sikora
and Utica Eisenhower product Corey Petros to help fill the void.
Kampe expects to feature a highly-touted backcourt of Reggie Hamilton, Laval Lucas-Perry and Travis Bader more prominently than before.
"We're going to have to go small, especially during league play," Kampe said. "There are going to be times when we play (Blake) Cushingberry or (Drew) Valentine at the 4."
Oakland is expected in the near future to announce the signing of another big man landed during the late signing period.
Read the Oakland release here