MANILA -- Filipino-American forward Gani Stevens has transferred to the University of the Philippines and will play for the Fighting Maroons starting next year, the team announced on Tuesday.
Stevens played for the University of the East Red Warriors in UAAP Season 85, where he averaged 9.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per game.
But he left the squad at the end of the UAAP season, and is now headed to Diliman to beef up an already-stacked frontline.
"We already love what we have right now with sina Francis [Lopez], Seven [Gagate], and Luis [Pablo]," said UP head coach Goldwin Monteverde.
"Adding another young, hardworking center in Gani will certainly give us more versatility in our frontcourt as we continue to build our program in the seasons to come."
Stevens will have to undergo a one-year residency period before being eligible to play for UP in UAAP Season 87 -- in time to fill in the shoes of reigning UAAP Most Valuable Player Malick Diouf who is set to play out his last season.
The Fighting Maroons also have LA Andres, Sean Alter, Aldous Torculas, and Mark Belmonte in the fold.
Stevens has three years of eligibility left in the UAAP.
He is the latest player to join a stacked recruiting class that has allowed UP to recover from losing nine players, including key stars in Carl Tamayo, Zavier Lucero, and James Spencer.
"Nagiging bihira na lang ang players na tinatapos ang five years sa college ngayon e, so we want to be prepared whenever one of our players plays well tapos gets offers sa international o sa pro," said UP program director Bo Perasol.
"We're happy and proud sa nangyari kay Carl, siyempre. At the same time, we have to be secured din sa programa natin."