St. John's sophomore Champagnie to enter NBA draft process

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NEW YORK (AP) — St. John's forward Julian Champagnie will enter the NBA draft process after leading the Big East in scoring during his sophomore season.

The 6-foot-8, 220-pound Champagnie plans to maintain his eligibility in case he decides to return to college for his junior year.

The announcement Thursday by St. John’s came two days after Champagnie’s twin brother Justin, a star forward at Pittsburgh, revealed similar plans to explore his NBA prospects.

“After long thought and multiple discussions with our coaching staff and my family, I have decided that it would be in my best interest to test the NBA draft process,” Julian Champagnie said in a statement. “The feedback that I will gain during this process will be very helpful in making my decision on returning to St. John’s for my junior season. I really look forward to having this opportunity and developing into a better player either for St. John’s or in the National Basketball Association. Playing at the next level has always been a dream of mine, so I am fully committed to getting better on and off the court each day.”

Champagnie averaged 19.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per game during a breakout season for the Red Storm, who finished 16-11. He was a first team All-Big East selection after making the league's All-Freshman team in 2019-20, when he averaged 9.9 points and a team-high 6.5 rebounds.

Champagnie shot 43.3% from the field this season, including 38% on 3-pointers. He made a Big East-best 88.7% of his free throws and finished fourth in the conference in steals (1.4 per game) and ninth in blocks (1.0).

“I think this is without question the right move for Julian at this point in his career,” St. John's coach Mike Anderson said. “He’ll gain tremendous insight on what he needs to work on to become a threat at the next level, whether that’s next year or in the future. Julian has our unwavering support as he begins this exciting next step on his basketball journey.”

Champagnie's departure would be a major blow to the 2021-22 Red Storm coming off an encouraging season. Picked ninth in the Big East preseason poll, St. John's finished fourth at 10-9 in league play and earned the No. 4 seed in the conference tournament — its highest since winning the event as the No. 3 seed in 2000.

St. John's was eliminated in the quarterfinals with an overtime loss to Seton Hall.

Last week, the Red Storm announced that Isaih Moore and Vince Cole are leaving the program after one season in Queens. Both juniors entered their name into the NCAA transfer portal. Moore and Cole, both from South Carolina, arrived this past season as junior college transfers and were significant contributors.

Justin Champagnie, who is 6-6, earned All-Atlantic Coast Conference first-team honors this season after averaging 18 points and 11.1 rebounds for Pitt.

The identical twins played together at Bishop Loughlin High School in Brooklyn. Their father, Ranford, was a soccer player on the St. John's team that won the 1996 national championship.

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More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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