Stefan Jankovic Declares for 2016 NBA Draft: Latest Comments and Reaction

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 30, 2016

March 20, 2016; Spokane , WA, USA; Hawaii Rainbow Warriors forward Stefan Jankovic (33) reacts following the 73-60 loss against Maryland Terrapins in the second round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Hawaii forward Stefan Jankovic will forgo his final year of college eligibility and enter his name in the 2016 NBA draft, he announced in a statement Wednesday:

I would like to thank the state of Hawai'i for all the great memories but I feel the time is right for me to declare for the draft and I'm in the process of hiring an agent. After the great season I experienced with my coaches and teammates, I discussed this decision with my family and we felt it was best for me to begin my professional career. I will always call Hawai'i home and this place gave me a second chance after I transferred from Missouri.

Jankovic, 22, averaged 15.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game as a junior. He shot 54.3 percent from the field overall and was a 39.3 percent shooter from long range as a 6'11" stretch forward.

To categorize Jankovic's decision as a surprise would be an understatement. It behooves any player to enter his name into the draft under the new rules governing NCAA eligibility. Players are now permitted to delay their final decision until 10 days after the NBA Draft Combine and can return to school provided they do not hire an agent. It's the reasonliterally the entire Kentucky team is declaring this year.

Jankovic, for whatever reason, is hiring representation. This is a player who is ranked No. 78 in his class by DraftExpress—not in the overall 2016 draft pool, but among college juniors. ESPN.com's Chad Ford does not have him in his top 100 players in the 2016 class. ESPN.com doesn't even have a prospect page for him.

In all fairness, this may be Jankovic's best and only shot to get an NBA look. He's coming off a season in which he won the Big West Conference Player of the Year award and was instrumental to Hawaii's first-round upset of Cal in the NCAA tournament. 

Rainbows head coach Eran Ganot released a statement supporting Jankovic:

In his short time here, Janks entrenched himself in the community and has said Hawai'i will always be home. He has our complete and unconditional support. In just one year, Stefan went from a non-all-conference player to Big West Player of the Year on an NCAA Tournament team and that's a testament to his hard-work, dedication and sacrifice to the game. His future is bright and I look forward to following his career.

As it stands, Jankovic is in all likelihood looking at an overseas career. The NBA is trending toward more players with his skill set, but he doesn't have the athleticism to defend at this level and wound up consistently in foul trouble playing against Big West opponents. There is probably a niche he can carve in the highest places in Euroleague; it's just hard to see this being a beneficial move from an NBA perspective.

Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter

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