June 17, 2011
ROCHESTER, Mich. - Junior Ilija Milutinovic has decided not to return to Oakland University for his senior season and enter his name in the professional ranks in Europe, announced by head coach Greg Kampe on Friday. Milutinovic, a native of Nis, Serbia, played in 79 games for the Golden Grizzlies in three seasons.
"I am happy and I am sad," said Kampe. "I am happy because Ilija graduated and is going to play professional basketball and make money. I am sad because I think that he was poised to have a great senior year and really help our basketball team. I think this is a big blow for us to lose him. Anytime you lose a seven-footer with three years of experience in a year that was going to be his big year that hurts."
Milutinovic, a 7-foot center, played in all 35 games last season and helped the Golden Grizzlies win back-to-back Summit League regular season and tournament championships. He doubled his output on the floor by averaging 2.8 points per game and shot 45 percent (9-for-20) from three-point range.
"Due to some private family issues I have made a decision to not come back for my final season at OU," said Milutinovic. "I will continue my basketball career here in Europe and will miss my teammates, coaching staff, fans and everyone else that made my stay at Oakland feel more like home. I am very thankful to Oakland University for the opportunities I have gotten and tried to do my best to take advantage of those opportunities."
Milutinovic came in as one of the more highly-touted recruits back in 2008. He showed flashes of that talent, including an eight-point, nine-rebound effort in 20 minutes at Ohio University last season on Nov. 15th. Milutinovic shot 48 percent (60-for-124) from the floor in his career and tallied two double-digit scoring games and one double-figure rebound game.
"He has a situation at home where he really needs to make money for his family," said Kampe. "I understand it. He graduated in three years, so that shows what kind of kid he is."