Pitt star Justin Champagnie is in the midst of his best season to date, and as a result, he is in the mix for a number of postseason honors. And on Thursday, the sophomore's list of potential postseason honors came to include the Karl Malone Award, as he was revealed to be one of five finalists for the award.
The Karl Malone Award is given to the top power forward in college basketball, and while Champagnie, a 6’6”, 200-pound athlete recruited as a prototypical wing player, is not listed as a power forward, he has outplayed some of the best in the nation. Specifically, the Brooklyn native has averaged 18.8 points and 11.4 boards per game this season and leads the ACC in both statistical categories, and that has garnered him some significant attention.
As a result of his outstanding play, the Pitt star was named a midseason All-American by ESPN and has been placed on the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year and Wooden Award watch lists. He has also been included in multiple mock drafts and big boards and was recently floated as a potential first-round NBA draft pick by Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated, leading to speculation that he may move on to the professional ranks.
Joining Champagnie as finalists for the 2021 Karl Malone Award are Drew Timme of Gonzaga, Trayce Jackson-Davis of Indiana, Sandro Mamukelashvili of Seton Hall and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl of Villanova. The most recent winners include Obi Toppin of Dayton in 2020, Zion Williamson of Duke in 2019 and Deandre Ayton of Arizona in 2018.
Champagnie is the top rebounder among the five finalists and ranks third in scoring behind Jackson-Davis, who averages 20.3 points per game, and Timme, who averages 19.1. The Brooklyn native leads Mamukelashvili and Robinson-Earl in both statistical categories and is the only finalist averaging a double-double.