Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Filipovich is growing up quickly

The facial hair on Niko Filipovich may or may not stay there for the rest of the season, but it is certainly symbolic as he enters his second year with the University of Hawai’i basketball team.

“He’s growing up,” teammate Aaron Valdes said with a smile. “It’s all part of growing up.”


Valdes might have been making fun, but Filipovich has made significant strides since last season. The 6-foot freshman has emerged as a candidate for playing time at point guard through the first two weeks of practices.

Head coach Gib Arnold has made it known that Filipovich’s stellar defensive play has put him in the mix at point guard with Quincy Smith and Roderick Bobbitt. “He’s probably my best on-ball defender,” Arnold said of Filipovich.

It also helps that Filipovich had a year to learn the system, although he did not get as much practice time as he would have liked last season. He missed chunks of time last season due to two significant injuries (shoulder and then knee). He is fully healed, and spent the summer working out in California with teammates Valdes, Stefan Jankovic and Stefan Jovanovic.

“I had a tough time with injuries last year, but I’m looking forward to this year because I’m stronger and faster and ready to compete,” he said.

He is also proving to be a good teammate. When he was summoned for this interview, Filipovich asked if he could include Valdes on video. Filipovich was also quick to add: “Shout out to my whole team for working hard this preseason.”


  1. Tough as nails, will get up in man’s face and D up, team leader, floor general, he has to get Gib’s system down, really , definitely in the mix, with that 3 headed PG rotation. What a luxury for Gib to have 3 good PG’s to use. And Nevels, Fleming , Jawato, and Enos at SG.

    Niko… one of the Serbian Trio of Terrific Basketball brothers..!

    Nikola Filopovich.. go for it!
    Lead, and get that BWC championship!

  2. We were forewarned about Niko and his intensity on defense as well as his offensive talents. Niko, you have not disappointed. Add to that a terrific attitude and we got a steal. Thanks for choosing Hawaii.

    And like RunBows, I believe Jawato will impact some games this year. I just watched him hit 7 threes in first half of that epic game. Man, you was on fiya man.

    And Enos too?! I watched you light it up this summer. I fully expect the same this season. Way to go Hawaiian.

    Lets Go Bows!!!

  3. Niko is playing great defense with the interview. Controlling whatever the interviewee throws at him. And looks like he doesn’t mind giving up the flashiness to Valdes. Good choice. Once the interview is well in hand, he eases up just a bit, but not until then!

    Just re-checking the WI open practice videos, and Niko looks like he belongs on the court. Controlling the ball, running the offense, and playing defense the way any coach would want defense to be played. We expect Niko, and all the team, to step it up, however, against other teams.

  4. Niko looked real good in the open gym and Green White Scrimmage. Should get some playing time. Interesting that Niko,Valdes and the Stefans all practiced together over the summer. That should lead to some good teamwork and bonding. Niko looks to be a great kid thinking about team first. Can’t wait for the season to start. He will have a real good career playing in Hawaii. Thanks for choosing Hawaii.

  5. That’s something when Gib says that his freshman Niko is his best on-ball defender. I don’t think anyone saw that coming. But such is defense. You don’t know what you got until real game situations play out. And come game time who knows what Filopovich is capable of doing. All in all we have a competitive core at the point. Everyone knows that they need to play at their best in order to get playing time.How it looks right now we have 4 players that can play at a high level. Of course only 1 will start but beyond that anyone can come off the bench and give quality minutes. That will really frustrate scout teams because they need to come up with strategies against each player. Things are shaping up to be one interesting season.

  6. better than dyrbe but without the shooting

  7. He’s a pretty good shooter, i think, looking at the video clips.

  8. Is he on scholarship? Scares me a little when Gib says his. Best on ball defender is someone not on scholarship.

  9. Hoosier:

    If Niko working that hard, did well in school as true freshman RS, last year, and then proceeded to go back to Cali, and work all summer with the Stefan’s and AirCuba… maybe… he could be the starting PG.. we had a lot of comments on 4 forums about the arrival, if and when for Niko, last summer.. He is a good one… does not want the spotlite, loves team Team first, and win first guy.. Like my favorite recent point guard, albeit, he injured, Hiram Thompson, great, great attitude.
    The best part of This Year’s Team might be the One Ohana, a true brotherhood, of winners!

  10. Since 13 are on scholarship currently, Niko must be one of them; Enos, Zach and Brocke are not.

  11. islandman:

    Yes. Makes sense. Niko really stepped up, got bigger, faster stronger, and is doing what Gib, wants, play some great shutdown defense. As we all know, the guys can shoot, so the 5 starters or 10 first rotation guys have to play D.
    Must be, and Niko wants to keep low key , he will not mention, nor put down, or make feel bad other friends/brothers.,.. That is why, Gib has those great, great High Character, work just as hard, and pushed in classroom , on the court, life and community good citizens, whether scholie or preferred. .. As far back as I can remember never saw a UH team with 16 guys on it. remember back in the day, they had a 15 man roster, maybe that was when 15 full ride scholarships were given, or was it 14? Wish MBB had 15 scholarships to offer.. that would be awesome..

    Now , soon the question, possible Redshirts.. ? I would think maybe 2? any thoughts islandman?

  12. Runbows, i don’t see any redshirts, unless Brocke or Zach ? Did they ever red shirt walkons ? Unless someone is injured, then they might red shirt that player.

    Jawato has to get healthier, he already red shirted.

  13. islandman:

    yes…. Valdes, Filipovich, Enos, all were Redshirted as preferred walkons.. it does affect their BB clock eligibility… All 3 benefitted from the RS year..Even Jawato, however, Brandon, he was/is a signee..I do not remember a UH team, with a Hackman, Harper, from Oz, etc. coming from (although other DI teams mid major do invite preferred walkons with hope of earning scholie)Gib is good not to mention..(and Niko, isn’t going to say anything.. such a team guy..)Washington and Australia walking on with hope of earning PT and scholie, though, Gib said he has started walkons… TOO Bad MBB, as I said, if really equal, they had 15 full ride scholarships to give, like NCAA DI WBB… sort of like NBA teams, I think they sign 15 guys, with some on practice status…they really have deep roster? anyways, yes,… Gib has RShirted walkons, and some very good ones, as we are seeing.

  14. niko filipovich is listed at 6′? he looks like he’s 5’9″ at the most.

  15. Believe the U of H offense is moving in the right direction. Having five players on the floor at the same time that can shoot the 3 will cause major problems. Being able to shoot and make 3’s will be a great equalizer for mid majors when playing BCS teams. The BB court just got bigger.

    As Coach Steve Fisher (San Diego State) said, if you are named a shooter, shoot. You can’t hesitate and if you miss, it’s about the next one.

    Believe we got the equalizers…..Go Bows…

  16. Niko is a legit 6-footer.

  17. OK .. i’ll Surrender that THIS (NIKO) IS A Case Where GIB’S Analysis was FAR Superior to My Own…

    I Saw Him More As a “Gift Walk-On”, Maybe To Sign The BIG Guy — (Bonus that the Ladies — MORE Fans ? RE: UH Men’s Volleyball Several YEARS’ SELL-OUTS? — Really Liked His and Michael Harper’s Looks) — BUT i Expected a Major Project to Get Up / Overcome Size and Speed Challenges — THAT Maybe His Shooting would get him on the Court — BUT A Player SMART Enough to Be In The Right Position and Anticipate Well Enough to Play GOOD / BEST Defense — ONE Up For Gib to have Seen the Possibilities…

  18. Thanks island man. Rare for a walk on to be best defender. Good to see he performed well enough to earn scholar like Valdez. Proof in the pudding though. Will be waiting to see him “shut down” (as Runbows says) other teams’ pg’s. Attitude mlt carries you so far

Leave a Response

Login or fill in the fields below to comment. (New user? Register)