St. John’s expectations just rose significantly.
Julian Champagnie, the leading scorer in the Big East last year, announced Sunday night he is taking his name out of the NBA draft and will return to school for his junior year.
It’s significant news for St. John’s, which has had a busy offseason of losing and adding players. But now it has back the centerpiece to a team that should make the NCAA Tournament next season and will likely be projected to finish in the top four in the Big East.
While St. John’s lost several players from last year’s team to transfers, most notably Greg Williams Jr., Marcellus Earlington and Rasheem Dunn, it arguably improved its roster by landing several key transfers. That includes Aaron Wheeler (Purdue), Joel Soriano (Fordham), Montez Mathis (Rutgers) and Stef Smith (Vermont).
The 6-foot-7 Champagnie had three NBA workouts and took part in the NBA Draft Combine. But had he stayed in the draft, scouts believe he would’ve likely been a late second-round pick. He received a mid-to-late second-round draft grade from the NBA advisory board, according to sources. The fact Champagnie can now make money off his name, image and likeness helped ease his decision to return, a source said.
Champagnie’s decision to return leaves St. John’s with one scholarship left after it landed Hofstra wing Tareq Coburn on Saturday. There remains a need for a ball handler capable of playing point guard in support of starter Posh Alexander.