Pitt star Justin Champagnie was expected to consider a move up to the NBA this offseason, and on Tuesday afternoon, he announced that he would “test the NBA draft process.”
“After talking it over with Coach Capel, my other coaches and my family, I have decided to test the NBA draft process,” Champagnie said in a statement. “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. This process will only help my development and allow me to become a better player at Pitt or in the NBA.”
The statement from Champagnie is not a formal entry into the 2021 NBA draft pool, but it means he will explore his options at the professional level by working out and getting feedback from scouts regarding his game and NBA prospects. And with the information he gathers during that process, Champagnie will come to a decision regarding his future.
Pitt head coach Jeff Capel also issued a statement and expressed his continued support for Champagnie as he explores his NBA prospects in the coming weeks.
“Justin had a terrific season and put himself in position to explore this opportunity,” 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.”
The 6’6”, 200-pound forward is coming off a season in which he led the ACC in rebounds and averaged a double-double, with 18.0 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. The Brooklyn native was also a key contributor defensively, as he came up with 1.3 blocks and 1.2 steals per game. As a result, Champagnie earned first-team All-ACC honors and finished second in ACC Player of the Year voting this season.
Champagnie has been an impactful player at Pitt since his arrival in 2019, and his decision on whether to remain with the Panthers or go pro will have a profound effect on the program. If he decides to stay, Pitt could build around him this offseason and emerge as a contender in a conference coming off a down season. But if he enters the draft, Capel’s rebuild of Pitt will suddenly become a much taller order.