Champagnie will “test the NBA Draft process;” final decision awaits


Kaycee Orwig | Senior Staff Photographer

Pitt star forward Justin Champagnie announced on Tuesday that he will “test the NBA Draft process.”

By Alex Lehmbeck, Sports Editor

After nonstop speculation from Panther fans over the future status of their team’s best player, sophomore forward Justin Champagnie finally made his decision on Tuesday afternoon. Sort of.

Through a statement from Pitt Athletics, the Pitt star announced that he will “test the NBA Draft process” this offseason. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Champagnie will or will not return to Pitt next year, as he will reevaluate his decision after participating in the pre-draft process.

“The feedback I will gain from meetings, workouts and outside evaluations will shape the final decision on whether to remain in the draft or return to the University of Pittsburgh for my junior season,” Champagnie said. “This process will only help my development and allow me to become a better player at Pitt or in the NBA.”

Champagnie emerged as one of the bright spots of a tumultuous season for the Panthers. The Brooklyn native’s 11.1 rebounds per game easily topped the ACC, his 18 points ranked second and his 1.25 blocks ranked 10th. Finishing second in ACC Player of the Year voting, Champagnie’s numbers earned him a long list of accolades, becoming the first Pitt player voted to the All-ACC First Team.

“Justin had a terrific season and put himself in position to explore this opportunity,” Pitt head coach Jeff Capel said. “I have been impressed with Justin’s development and his desire to be coached since his arrival at Pitt. I believe he is only scratching the surface of the player he can become. We will continue to work with him and his family throughout the NBA Draft process.”

NBA Draft Room has called Champagnie a “unique prospect,” praising his ability to do the “dirty work,” but calling his inconsistent 3-point shooting his “make or break NBA skill.” Champagnie’s projections fluctuate from source to source — left him out of its latest mock draft, while Sports Illustrated ranked him as the No. 24 prospect in its 2021 Big Board.

If Champagnie decides not to return to Pitt, it would add to an already long list of program departures in 2021. Junior guards Xavier Johnson and Au’Diese Toney announced their decisions to transfer in February, and sophomore guard Gerald Drumgoole Jr. followed suit shortly after the season’s conclusion.