After spending some time conferring with NBA scouts and doing workouts to explore his chances at getting picked in the first round of the NBA Draft, Julian Champagnie has chosen to return to St. John’s for his junior year. Champagnie, a leading scorer in the Big East and nationally, is a boost the the Red Storm’s chances of reaching the postseason in 2022.
Champagnie had entered the NBA Draft without hiring an agent, and drew some interest as a prospect. Julian worked out for the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Indiana Pacers, and Chicago Bulls, and made enough noise at the NBA Draft Combine to improve to 69th best available on ESPN and 88th on NBADraft.net.
The Brooklyn native is returning to a Red Storm team with only two other guys from last year’s roster in Posh Alexander and Dylan Addae-Wusu. The team has added a number of talents via transfer along with three freshmen, but Champagnie will be looked to carry and steady the team’s attack. He was a strong player, shooting 38% on three-pointers (up from 31% his freshman year).
With Champagnie’s return, and the addition of Tareq Coburn, the Red Storm roster looks nearly complete.
For Champagnie, his goal is – along with helping his team win – further showing that he can be an appealing “3 and D” wing on the pro level at 6’7”.
To demonstrate where Julian needs to improve to improve his draft stock, the below chart compares his most recent numbers to other wings.
First is the Phoenix Suns’ Mikal Bridges, the 10th overall pick in the 2018 Draft who entered as a Junior wing from Villanova. Second is J.P. Macura, undrafted as a Senior wing out of Xavier in 2018, who earned a two-way deal with the Charlotte Hornets and then a couple of non-guaranteed deals with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Ideally, if Champagnie is to get drafted and stick around in the NBA, his numbers should look more like Bridges’s than Macura’s.
Julian has room for improvement at his midrange shot. Some of his midrange shots will be a necessity, as it will likely fall to him to take less than ideal shots late in the shot clock. Some of his shots were by choice, but he struggled to connect on long jump shots under pressure.
Ideally, many of these midrange shots should be replaced by shots at the rim, and improved accuracy on his drives. Improving that skill would increase his accuracy – and perhaps improve his free throw rate.
Champagnie will also need to take another step defensively. His defensive rating regressed to 101 from 95 last season, likely as a byproduct of both evolving into St. John’s primary offensive option and having to guard bigger players on a largely undersized roster. With a deeper roster this season, where it appears St. John’s can legitimately play 10 every night, Champagnie should be fresh enough to take another step defensively for the Johnnies.
There is always more work to be done in building a bonafide NBA talent profile – and in winning games on the collegiate level. Based on the work he did after his freshman year, the work ethic will not be an issue. With Champagnie’s work ethic and a few alterations to his approach, the Red Storm fan base can look forward to hearing his name called on draft night in 2022.